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Monday, June 20, 2011


I love a good rally. I especially love a good library-related rally. In fact, I attended a good library-related rally on the steps of City Hall in NYC this past Friday. The purpose? To rail against library budget cuts, of course. It was a hot, sunny morning, and there was a pretty good turnout (with the help of dedicated DC-37 union workers). The rally was sponsored by a few politician-y types, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz made speeches defending libraries. The heads of all three library systems also spoke out against library budget cuts, as well as an elderly patron from Queens, who eloquently described how libraries benefit people of all ages.

My favorite speaker of the morning, however, was the dynamic Malachy McCourt (author of A Monk Swimming and brother of the late Frank McCourt, who wrote Angela's Ashes). Malachy gave a rousing, profanity-riddled-yet-inspiring speech, injecting energy into the crowd and a bit of optimism into my cold, pessimistic heart. (I wish I had transcribed the speech - I can't remember everything he said, but at one point the words "bastards" and "arseholes" were thrown about in reference to people who want to cut library and education budgets in New York.)

Me and Malachy McCourt
(Note: I look weird because he made me laugh by saying "Shit's the word!" right before the picture was taken.)

After the rally, I approached Mr. McCourt, who was exceedingly friendly, told him I was a librarian, and thanked him for his spirited and poignant speech. In return, he thanked ME for the work I did as a librarian (which I found very touching) and told me about how important libraries were to him growing up in Brooklyn as a child of impoverished Irish immigrants. We marveled at the fact that there might be a young Brooklyn writer sitting in a library right this minute, reading and learning and waiting to be discovered someday. It was a wonderful conversation.

Me, Malachy McCourt, and Eileen Muller (President, Union Local 1482)
(And he said "Shit's the word" again!)
So, that's my story of going all Irish-writer-fan-girl on Malachy McCourt. He made me laugh, he made me cry, he made me remember the power that libraries can have and what is potentially at stake if they are cut further. I'm not sure if the entirety of his colorful rally speech made the news, but if so, I sincerely hope the "arseholes" were listening.  


  1. OMG, that's WONDERFUL! Nothing like having people you admire, admire you back.

  2. Just found you on twitter from your library haiku. So glad to have discovered you!

  3. It's good to know that there are politicians that support rallies, good rallies I must say. The speeches that these officials made were surely powerful which clearly advocated the rights of the people to use the libraries and to prevent cost cutting.