The Fight for the NYPL: The Next Madison, Wisconsin? May 13, 2011 – Tags: , ,

The iconic main branch of the New York Public Library is about to celebrate its 100th birthday. Unfortunately, any celebration will be muted and short-lived as the libray and its supporters brace for the fight of their lives.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s latest budget proposes a $40 million cut to the library budget; it is the most severe cuts ever faced by the library in its 100+ year history. And one cannot think of a worse time. For most, the economy is in the tank while for most libraries usage is up across the board.

We should consider Libraries a sacred community asset, a form of social security or better yet a vital ingredient of our community security. Exposing and providing access to information for our citizens must remain a priority no matter how dire the economic outlook. The health of our communities and our republic depends on it.

Granted the current technological upheaval demands a thorough review of the role of  “the library” and what it means and what it provides but it does not mean the end of the road for libraries.

Perhaps, like the union workers of Wisconsin who fought against the loss of collective bargaining; their most sacred asset, we need to rise up and demand full funding for all libraries across the nation. Maybe we need to occupy the libraries that are slated for closure and march up and down main street protesting the loss of our libraries. There is simply too much to lose.

Above is the screenshot of a website launched to combat the proposed changes at NYPL.

Laura Miller’s recent piece at Salon, Why libraries still matter, is worth a read too.

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