Friday, May 21, 2010
Welcome to a Rant: New York Public Library Pressured to Close 10 Branches--Happy New York Book Week, BEA 2010!
Some of you may know before my son, the farm, freelancing and the book contract I was a teacher. A very well-respected one, I'm proud to say. Having taught, I have a HUGE respect for our public schools, our teachers and school staff. I could essentially illustrate here (with a multitude of examples) how they are nearly all underpaid, mostly undervalued and too often undermined. Maybe I will eventually. Just not now.
I taught (mainly) social studies. I have a great respect for history and culture (which is why I'm ranting now).
When you look back at humanity's history you'll notice our progress, technology and achievement goes hand in hand with the education of our public.
And, when school budgets are cut continually and dramatically (umm, like now, for example) or when public schooling is simply unavailable (mainly historically speaking) there are only a few places we can turn for education: our peers (surely you understand the flaw here in many cases), our families (seriously--can you sit still long enough to learn a great deal from a parent?), and OUR LIBRARIES.
Can't afford a book? You borrow it. For free! Need to learn a new skill, a craft, try out a trade? You have resources at your fingertips. For free.
Libraries are at the heart of maintaining an educated, achieving populace. Libraries are at the heart of democracy. Without a good education and a strong view of history, anyone can make you believe anything. I know this to be true. I write fiction. Lots of us make readers doubt reality as a matter of course (and ya'all are smart!). ;-)
Seeing that 10 branches of the New York Public Library may be forced to close due to budget cuts totaling approximately $37 million puts me in fear for the city and state.
Ignorance (the result of less educational options) stretches easily across geographical boundaries like a stain.
Or a plague. NYPL cut hours back in February due to loss of state aid. They've been tightening their belts all along. An institution that has helped educate our nation's population (and many immigrants first arriving here) since 1895 is losing its battle.
The Class of 2k10 will be speaking at two branches of the New York Public Library during BEA and New York Book Week (next week--eeee!). Some of our YA and MG authors will speak at the Mulberry Street Branch on May 26th at 10 am and more of us (including myself) will speak at the St. Agnes Branch on May 27th at 4 pm.
If you're going to be in NYC for BEA 2010, I encourage you to come to one of our library get-togethers. I would love to say I'll be speaking at one of these two branches of the NYPL next year during BEA 2011, but, although my second book will be out by then, these branches may no longer be around.
If you're a New Yorker (or even if you aren't) I encourage you to express your opinion. Please go. Fill out the form--it'll only take 5 minutes--and realize you've at least done something to keep books in the hands of millions of readers who depend on them for both fun and fact.
Thank you so much for looking to the future by helping preserve an institution from our varied and valuable past!