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From: Michael Borries <michael.borries-2xSuBjmtRlRm42pztNaURw <at> public.gmane.org>
Subject: What readers want
Newsgroups: gmane.education.libraries.autocat
Date: Tuesday 17th April 2012 18:03:18 UTC (over 4 years ago)
Without commenting on the issues (with which I am not familiar), I send
this along primarily as an example of what at least one segment of readers
wants from libraries (neither Joan Scott nor Sandy Cooper are librarians,
and the people to whom this was                sent are faculty of various

Michael S. Borries
Cataloger, City University of New York
151 East 25th Street, 5th Floor
New York, NY  10010
Phone: (646) 312-1687
[email protected]


From: CUNY UFS Announcement-only list
[mailto:[email protected]]
On Behalf Of Sandi Cooper
Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 1:23 PM
[email protected]
Subject: The NYPL proposal to alter 42nd St

Dear Colleagues

Please send this around widely.   Attached is a letter drafted by Joan
Scott of the Princeton Institute of Advanced Study to Anthony Marx, head of
the 42nd St. Library -- who plans to alter the library in a manner
antithetical to its status as a premier research institution.  Your
endorsement in important.


Sandi E. Cooper, Chair
University Faculty Senate -- CUNY
535 E 80 Street
New York, N Y 10075
212 794 5538


From: *Joan Scott*
<[email protected]>
Date: Thu, Apr 12, 2012 at 4:59 PM
Subject: A letter to the NYPL
To: Joan Scott
<[email protected]>

Dear Colleagues,
Several of us, concerned about the direction being taken by the plan to
restructure the New York Public Library, have written the attached letter
to Anthony Marx.  We hope you will be willing to sign it and to send it to
others who may wish to sign as well.
If you wish to sign, simply send me an email--I'm collecting signatures.
Many thanks
Joan W. Scott

Joan W. Scott
Harold F. Linder Professor
School of Social Science
Institute for Advanced Study
Princeton, NJ  08540

Anthony Marx
New York Public Library

Dear Dr. Marx,

                We write, as scholars, writers, researchers and teachers,
who have long benefitted from the services and collections available to us
at the four research facilities of the New York Public Library.  We are
alarmed by the Central Library Plan, which seems to us to be a misplaced
use of funds in a time of great scarcity.   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

*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 Schomburg Library in Harlem-THE place to do research on
African-American history-- has been allowed to deteriorate through the
postponement both of capital improvements and of computer upgrading;

*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 wre 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.  While we
understand that it may be necessary to store some books in order to make
room for others and that more computer access may be necessary for users of
the library, the changes planned envision a much more radical

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.  Books will be harder to get when
they're needed either because of delays in locating them in the storage
facility or because they have been checked out to borrowers.  Those of us
who also use university libraries know how frustrating it is to discover
that the book we need immediately is checked out or lost.  And we worry
about the effects of removing the stacks that now support the glorious Rose
Reading Room. More important, perhaps, is that the CLP seems to make no
mention of restoring the staff positions that have been lost and that are
critical for the functioning of a major research institution.

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.   More space,
more computers, a café, and a lending library will not improve an already
democratic institution.  In fact, the absence of expert staff will diminish
the accessibility of the collections to those who aren't already
experienced researchers, narrowing the constituency who can profitably use
the library.  They will be able to borrow books, to be sure, but they won't
be inducted into the world of archives and collections if staff aren't
there to guide them.  Also, in the age of the web, we need, more than ever,
skilled, expert librarians who can assist us in navigating the new
databases and the back alleys of cyberspace. We understand that it is often
easier to raise money by attending to buildings (and naming them), but the
real need at the NYPL is for the preservation of a great library and the
support of its staff.

We appreciate the fact that you have established a committee consisting of
some critics of the CLP to advise you.  We hope you will take a hard look
at the plan you've been given and revise it so that the splendid culture of
research embodied by the NYPL can be maintained.   We think the money
raised can be better used to preserve and extend what already exists at
42ND street.  Change is always necessary, but not of the kind envisioned by
the CLP.



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