The New York Public Library is drastically purging its book collections, eliminating a great number of older books in circulation and making books that in remain in its collection much less accessible.
With the famous 42nd street library, it means the outright vandalism of one of the most famous libraries in the country whose books will be banished to New Jersey. At local branches, it means fewer books, more computers and more gimmicks.
It’s striking then to look at the front page of the New York Public Library, to note its absence of books and the proliferation of pop culture and politically correct events. The Beatles get extensive coverage. There are a dozen black history events including racism in the criminal justice system.
Then you’ve got AIDS activism complete with a gay kiss and a Muslim librarian.
Finally movie rentals and shopping for diamonds.
Books? The New York Public Library doesn’t seem to do those much anymore. But if you want a computer, a diamond or political correctness, you’ve come to the right place.
This is what the New York Public Library is becoming…
“Although they are often thought of as cultural institutions,” argued a 2013 report by the Center for an Urban Future, a left-leaning New York think tank, “the reality is that the public libraries are a key component of the city’s human capital system.” In this view, New York’s public libraries—and the branches in particular—exist to provide underprivileged groups with vital services, such as computer-literacy classes, job-search assistance, and “safe havens” for at-risk youths.
A homeless shelter, an immigrant literacy center and a place for teenagers to hang out. No books wanted.
The budget cutbacks of the past five years have had disastrous effects for the NYPL’S research libraries, and especially 42nd Street:
*the skilled staff vital to supporting our research activities-curators, archivists, bibliographers and librarians-have been drastically reduced in number;
*the Slavic and Baltic division and the Asian and Middle Eastern division have been entirely eliminated; and there is no full-time curator for the Slavic collection.
*The Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center is no longer a haven for scholars and critics. Many of the reference librarians who specialized in dance, music, recorded sound, and theater were eliminated, moved off the reference desks or offered buyouts.
Instead of addressing these issues, the CLP will spend over $300 million on a restructuring of the 42nd Street building which includes a huge expansion of public space, the removal of stacks (and and the 3 million books in them), and the creation of a circulating library in the building.
NYPL will lose its standing as a premier research institution (second only to the Library of Congress in the US),–a destination for international as well as American scholars– and become a busy social center where focused research is no longer the primary goal.
One of the claims made about the CLP is that it will “democratize” the NYPL, but that seems to be a misunderstanding of what that word means. The NYPL is already among the most democratic institutions of its kind. Anyone can use it; no credentials are needed to gain entry.
Meanwhile you can walk into any branch and borrow a laptop because apparently that is what the library is supposed to do now.