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Monday, June 25, 2012

We Did It

Today the City Council restored $25 million dollars of a potential $27 million dollar cut to Brooklyn Public Library.

This means that BPL will  "maintain existing service levels and avoid layoffs,"
as stated by our President and CEO Linda Johnson. 

I am very tired and emotionally drained (for this and other reasons) so I just want to simply
say thank you to anyone who signed the petitions, tweeted about the cuts, checked out a book - ANYTHING to support NYC libraries and this cause. Thank you. I hope we do not to have to do this again next year, but it's comforting to know that people are on the side of libraries. 

Now to sleep. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Thank You

Two posts in one day! This is unprecedented.

I just wanted to thank everyone who may have voted for me in the Salem Press 2012 Library Blog awards. I am proud to say that my blog won in the "Quirky" category, which makes me especially happy because public librarianship is, at the very least, extremely quirky. There were a lot of great blogs featured in the contest, and I'm honored to be in their company.

They even emailed me a badge to put on my site, which I guess makes it EXTRA official!


Even if you didn't get a chance to vote in the contest, I want to thank everyone who reads/follows/comments on/promotes/supports/merely glances at my blog. The whole reason I started blogging was to raise awareness about libraries and show that there are many aspects of being a librarian that people might not see - and also, hopefully, to show the importance of libraries in peoples' lives, children in particular. Being acknowledged in this way gives me hope that people are paying attention and that libraries will be around for a long, long time.

(Also, a special thanks to my sister, who I have to give credit for suggesting the name Screwy Decimal! It sure beats my original blog name "Libraries R Crazy 'n' Stuff.")

What's the 311?

I'm sure you're all getting very tired of hearing about these potential NYC library budget cuts - Lord knows that I'm tired of talking about them - but think of it this way: just consider how much more annoying it would be to hear me complain about actual NYC library budget cuts if they were to go through (and you'd better believe I'd be hitting up all my friends, family, and distant acquaintances for jobs if I got laid off!) So this sort of harassment...I mean, reminder...is really mild in comparison.


Anyway. I know you've already signed the petitions and emailed your local politicians and brought cookies to your favorite librarian as a show of support (oatmeal chocolate chip, if you're wondering what kind I like). There's still one more thing you can do! And it's probably the easiest of all AND it has a tremendous impact: 


Call 311! 


That's right! It's not just for reporting potholes or finding out when the recycling gets collected. You can use it to FIGHT THE MAN. Just dial those three little numbers and let your voice be heard - literally. Tell them you are an avid library user and you oppose Mayor Bloomberg's projected library budget cuts. It's as *simple as that!


Here's how: 


Within NYC: 
Just...call 311 like I told you. Do it. Now. What are you waiting for?!


Outside NYC: 
Even if you don't happen to live in NYC, you can still help! Call 212-NEW-YORK (or 212-639-9675, for those who hate deciphering that stuff like I do). In addition, the TTY Number is 212-504-4115.


We only have a few more days before the budget gets decided, so we're trying to inundate 311 with calls today and tomorrow. (But I really won't mind if you do it later this week, I swear.)

Here's the official Facebook Invite created by Urban Librarians Unite if you want to "attend" and show all your friends how cool and socially aware you are. And here's a great post by ULU about why you should do this in the first place - it even provides a helpful script if you are feeling shy.


*Full disclosure: it sometimes takes a minute for the operator you get to figure out how to record your comment, but don't give up.  Calling 311 actually does work in protesting the library budget cuts because they keep track of how many complaints a particular issue gets. The more complaints there are, the more Mayor Bloomberg hears about it. Let's show that Mayor we care! (Is that a poem? I'm pretty sure that's a poem.)

So, thank you in advance! I look forward to a time when I can go back to talking about funny ridiculous library stuff like kids telling me I have to get married soon or I'll die alone instead of scary ridiculous library stuff like budget cuts. 

With love and appreciation,


Rita

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sigh

Kid: "Why are you under there?"
 
Me (distracted): "What? Under where?"
 
Kid: "HAHAHA! YOU SAID UNDERWEAR!"
 
Well, that's it. I'm quitting. After falling for that, I don't deserve to be a children's librarian.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Where Would You Be Without Your Library?

Yesterday was our Summer Reading Kickoff. Everyone seemed to have a nice time, although it was a bit more low-key (low-keyer?) than previous years. But I manned the fake tattoo station and my co-worker held an arts & crafts session and we did the best we could with our limited staff and resources.

Speaking of limited staff and resources, have I mentioned in the past five seconds that the Mayor is trying to cut our budget even more? No? Okay, I guess it's time to talk about it again. In my previous post, I linked to BPL's online petition (which you should totally sign,) but they also created a special sheet for kids to fill out with the heading "Where would you be without Brooklyn Public Library?" We handed out these sheets during the kickoff yesterday and got a lot of responses from young library users of all ages.

Here are a few of my favorites:




Without my library I..."can't read free books and can't learn. To me books have the same value as my life. I also can't buy all the books I want because I'm poor and the books are expensive." - 11 year old girl

I just want to repeat that one line: "To me books have the same value as my life." This kid is DEDICATED.

Another:



Without my library I..."would be home and be bored and rot my brain playing computer and iPod. My brain would burn from reading boring books." - 9 year old boy

I'm just going to assume he meant that the books he has at HOME are boring, not the ones at the library.

Other responses (sans photos):


Without my library I..."would be sad and bored and I would have nothing to do." - 11 year old boy

Without my library I..."would not read any books." - 11 year old boy

Without my library I..."would not be happy. I wouldn't be able to do my projects and entertain myself with books. I love reading!" - 10 year old girl

Without my library I..."would not have a place to read books. Without my library I would not have any places to do research. Without the library I wouldn't have anything to do." - 8 year old boy

Without my library I..."can give money and if you close there will be no book. Plase [sic] don't close." - 6.5 year old girl. (Awww!)

Without my library I..."wouldn't be able to read books over the summer. I love to read books. It's my hobby and I do it when I have free time. Books are a part of my life. I won't be able to live without books. Books improve your reading levels and they help you improve in ELA state tests. Without a library I would be bored at home with nothing to do." - 13 year old girl (Another frighteningly dedicated reader!)

And then there was this one that made me cry:


Without my library I..."would not be able to have access to books. I'm 4.5 and have Down Syndrome. My mom is writing this for me because I can't. My mom is not able to afford books for me without the help of the Brooklyn Public Library."

I mean, that really just kind of says it all, doesn't it?

And finally, on her response sheet, a 12 year old girl (whose first language is not English and who I help to pick out books weekly because she claims to not love reading) drew the picture below (and several other pictures of sadness) of how she would feel if the library closed:


Without my library I..."will be bored. I would not read any books. I will not have fun. My Level reading will be bad. If my computer broke, I will not have a place where I do my homeworks, projects, and more. I will not have somebody to help me in my homework when I don't know. I would not have a program where I could learn. I will be so bored and sad if I didn't have my library."

As you can see, she was NOT happy with the prospect of libraries being closed. When I explained to her in general about the budget cuts, she said "Are they idiots?" I didn't quite know how to answer her.

Let's not be idiots, people. Let's keep our libraries open. FOR THE CHILDREN.



Monday, June 4, 2012

How to Save a Library

The Spring season brings with it certain painful inevitabilities: pollen allergies, warming temperatures (which is not a good thing for creatures of the cold such as myself), endless rain storms, and not the least frustrating, New York City budget negotiations. Yes, it's that time of year again, when public librarians and library users all across the city throw down the gauntlet, take off the gloves, and begin the fight against library cuts and closures. No, my friends, I am not a fan of Spring. Budget cuts make me angry, and you wouldn't like me when I'm angry.  

This is my "budget cut protest" stance.
The problem: Mayor Bloomberg is once again threatening to cut the budgets of all three NYC library systems - it would be a 32% cut in Brooklyn alone. I don't need to tell you how devastating this would be for libraries, and I probably don't need to rehash the reasons I think libraries are important...nay...essential in these economic times. (If you read this blog regularly, you probably already know my reasons, but if you need a bit more inspiration, Urban Librarians Unite has a great post up about why public librarians continue to fight.)

The solution(s): All hope is not completely lost. There are simple and effective ways to combat the budget problems we are facing, and anyone living in NYC can help. If you are a library user, or you love libraries in general, or you think that our communities benefit from libraries in ANY WAY, the single most important thing to do in this fight is to let your voice be heard. Simply put, let your elected officials know that you oppose library budget cuts and potential closures. That's it! It doesn't have to be anything fancy.

THE PETITIONS: The fastest way to do this is to sign one of the online petitions provided by the three library systems. Just click on your borough and pour your little library-loving hearts out.

Brooklyn!

Queens!

NYPL! (Manhattan, Bronx, Staten Island)

If you want to get even more involved, stop by this year's 24-Hour Read-In at Brooklyn Public Library's Central branch starting at 4pm on Saturday, June 9th. It's a lot of fun, and a great way to show your support for libraries. (Plus you get to hear cool people read stuff out loud. It's like storytime for grownups!) *Update: The Read-In was a great success and a lot of fun! We thank everyone who attended.



Last but not least: it never hurts to call 311 or send an email, letter, or postcard directly to Mayor Bloomberg, as illustrated by this amazing 10-year-old in one of my blog posts from last year, "Postcards from the Edge (of the Reference Desk)." (Of course, your letters don't have to  be as threatening.)  

Thanks, everyone. Your support makes all the difference. Keep the faith, fight the power, and other generic phrases of encouragement!

~Rita