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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Advocacy Round-Up

How are all my librarians doing? You feeling okay? Hanging in there?

I just wanted to share a few library advocacy-related things with you.

(Graphic by M. Bialaszewski)

1) As a follow-up to a previous blog post, I wrote a Book Riot piece called Why Love Libraries?

Here's an excerpt:

"Despite its budding beauty, longer hours of sunshine, and the promise of sweet, sweet outdoor drinking, Spring is a tough season for NYC librarians because every single year around this time, we face massive budget cuts that threaten to close our doors, cut our hours, lay off our staff, and kill our souls piece by piece. If you’d like more information, you can read the testimony of library heads from March about the proposed cuts here.

But Rita, you might be asking, doesn’t the mayor WANT to fully fund the city’s three library systems? Don’t millions of kids, teens, and adults use them each year? Aren’t library branches across the boroughs full to the brim every day, and don’t some residents demand even MORE open hours? In fact, isn’t there this whole new report on how libraries are more relevant and utilized in NYC with each passing year? Why yes, yes there is such a report! And you can read it here. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

I can’t answer the question of why some of the “powers that be” feel that it’s right to cut libraries in a time when they are needed most. Perhaps it’s a political game of chicken. Perhaps there are other things at play behind the scenes that my tiny librarian brain can’t even comprehend. All I know is that as long as the cuts are on the table, we are going to fight them. (And the library systems do have the support of many great Councilmembers, like Gentile and Van Bramer, just to name two – plus great advocacy groups like ULU.) So it’s not a battle that we’re fighting completely alone. But still, we must fight."

I then shared some great responses I got from people around the internet about why THEY love libraries. Be sure to check 'em out. Thanks, internet people!

2) As a result of the Book Riot post, I received this nice email from a reader (who gave me permission to share it):

"It's hard to put words to what my local public library means to me. When I was a single teenage mom I made a weekly trip to the library with my daughter. While there I always felt a sense of comfort (I'm guess it was from being surrounded by order when my life was in chaos) and hope (walking out the door with a stack of books for each of us made us feel rich). The library is where I escaped to study to get my nursing degree. It instilled a love for reading in both of us which I believe impacted my daughter and her ability to become an environmental engineer. I truly believe my library shaped my life and the lives of my family for the better. Thank you for your work to save them!!"

- Victoria Jenkins

Absolutely lovely. Thank you, Victoria!

3) Brooklyn Public Library is doing a cool "Bike the Branches" fundraiser on Saturday, May 11th. If you are one of the brave ones who bikes in Brooklyn and you want to donate to the library at the same time, take a look and participate if you can.

4) Sort of related: my librarian band LOST IN THE STACKS will be playing a set at the Central branch from 12:00pm- 2:00pm on that day (May 11th), so if you're in the area, be sure to come by and say hello!

5) Lastly, you should read this great pro-library manifesto in the Huffington Post written by my friend and fellow-ULU-er Christian Z. Most of the comments are very heartening and even Alyssa Milano was moved to spread the word.

Keep up the good advocacy work, everyone!

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