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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Postcards from the Stacks

In my last post, I briefly mentioned the Save NYC Libraries postcard campaign. We've been diligently collecting postcards inside and outside the branches. Below is my favorite one so far, which was written by a 10-ish-year-old girl who frequently comes into my library. (I promise that neither my coworker Ally nor I coerced the girl into calling us "beautiful", "nice," or "kind." She's just that loyal.) 

Cute, right? If you want to send your own postcard in support of NYC libraries/protesting library cuts, you can send them to the address below. (Councilman Van Bramer of Queens is collecting them on behalf of the city council.)

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer

47-01 Queens Boulevard

Suite 205

Sunnyside, New York 11104

We're trying to get all "Miracle on 34th Street" on their a$$es in terms of postcard volume, so thank you in advance if you send one. Good luck to us all. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ain't No Cure for the Budget-time Blues

Hey, folks. I need to get serious for a moment, and I'll get right to the point: according to this recently released document regarding Mayor Bloomberg's proposed executive budget for 2012, NYC libraries are in big trouble. These cuts would result in reduced library hours, the reduction and/or elimination of programs & materials, and staff layoffs. (Based on this budget model, Brooklyn Public Library could potentially lay off 158 employees this summer, including yours truly. Zoinks.)
Do you want to see this sign on your library? Nay!

Instead of sobbing into a glass of wine, which is one of my usual coping mechanisms when I'm stressed, I've channeled my panic and compiled a few ways you (yes, you!) can help fight against these library cuts. 

1) If you live in NYC, you can sign one of these online petitions. They go straight to your elected officials and only take a few minutes to complete. Plus you get to fill out boxes! Everyone loves filling out boxes, right?

Choose your library system:

2) Even if you don't live in NY, you can email your own state senators and house representative through the ALA for National Library Legistlative DayYou can also contact officials through NYLA if you live in the state of NY.

(Photo Courtesy of ULU)
3) I am part of an enthusiastic grassroots advocacy group called Urban Librarians Unite. I encourage you to check out their website, which has a bunch of useful information all in one place about how to help fight for libraries this budget season, including an awesome postcard-writing campaign, a 24-hour read-in, and lots of other exciting advocacy-related events. (The photo above - with my good friend Ingrid on the left and me on the right looking like Zombie Elvis - was from last fall's zombie librarian advocacy march on City Hall. Frightfully fun.)

Postcards from last year's 24-Hour Read-In. Send one! (Photo courtesy of ULU).

4) Also, if you come to Love Your Library Day this Saturday, May 14th at the Central Branch of Brooklyn public library, you can help support the library AND see me and my librarian band Lost in the Stacks throw down some "phat beats," as the kids say. (Okay, kids don't say that.) Just for fun, here's a picture of Roscoe Orman - a.k.a "Gordon" from Sesame Street - singing a guest song with us at a Nuyorican Poets Cafe gig last fall! A children's librarian's dream come true:

(The appearance of Roscoe Orman is not guaranteed at future LITS gigs.)

That's all the NYC library advocacy news I can think of at the moment (let me know if I missed anything). Stay tuned for more information! And don't forget, wherever you are, there's a library that needs your support. We depend on you just as much as you depend on us. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I Got Books in Burned Places

You know it's finally springtime in Brooklyn when a few things start to happen:

1) The cherry blossoms bloom in the Botanic Gardens.
2) Ice cream trucks roam around, playing their incessant siren song and preying on my weakness for rainbow sprinkles.
3) At the first sign of warm weather, elderly men take off their shirts in public and refuse to put them back on.
4) Cheeky young scamps procure a car, smash out its windows, and set it on fire.

Ahhh, the burned-out car. To be honest, I don't exactly know why this phenomenon occurs. (Gang initiation? Insurance scam? Boredom?) To be even more honest, I don't really want to know. But these melted shells of sadness are scattered around the city, reminding us to pay our car insurance bills and steer clear of parks after sunset. Last week, I walked past this fixer-upper on Flatbush Avenue:

That's gonna hurt the Blue Book value, AMIRITE?

As a Brooklyn resident and car owner, the sight pained me a bit (the aforementioned insurance is NOT cheap), but I didn't think it was TOO out-of-the-ordinary until I noticed an item sitting on what was left of the car's rear windshield:

That, my friends, is a copy of American Tall Tales by Mary Pope Osborne (Knopf, 1991) that someone inexplicably placed on the twisted, burning wreck. Shockingly, I'm not an expert on forensic evidence, but I found the this scene to be strange for a few reasons: the book was in good condition and didn't appear to be a stolen or discarded library book (the Central branch of BPL was not far away). There wasn't any baseball bat/crowbar/fire damage done to the book, telling me that it was placed on the car after the car was destroyed. (Hey, look, I AM a forensic expert!)

So, my question is, why would someone do this? Was it meant to be some kind of sacrifice to the Automobile Gods? An offering of mea culpa to the car's former owner in the event that he or she happens to stumble upon it? Did a kid bored with tall tales toss it onto the wreck in an act of defiance? Or was Knopf merely trying a new children's book marketing idea?

We'll never know. I will say this for Brooklyn: you may see a lot of old man teat, but we still keep it classy by using a good ol' fashioned car burnin' as an opportunity to promote literacy. Well done, Brooklyn. Well done.