By Doreen Gallo
For Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Dear Borough President Adams,
My name is Doreen Gallo and I am writing on behalf of the DUMBO Neighborhood Alliance (DNA) to express our extreme concern over the current plans to sell off some of the historic buildings that our public libraries inhabit in order to pay for repairs for other libraries throughout the borough. I am the DNA representative on the Brooklyn Public Library Community Advisory Council (CAC), which was formed after the decision to sell off our libraries to developers was decided by a select few.
The majority of our constituents are against the sale and corresponding physical shrinkage of our library system as a way to pay for maintenance for the remainder of the Brooklyn library system. What will happen the next time that the BPL runs short on cash? Libraries especially at risk in our borough are the Brooklyn Heights Library and the Pacific Street Library. Our public libraries are crucial in achieving the vision of equity and unity for all of Brooklyn's residents, key visionary goals in your and Mayor de Blasio’s elections.
The Brooklyn Heights Branch is poorly run, and there are few books on the shelves. The present conditions seem to have been created on purpose to present a narrative for a renewed development project at this site instead of a beloved and desperately needed library. It is fiscally more responsible to adaptively reuse the current building and find ways to resolve the current problems, not create the symptoms of this issue of disrepair. We need resolve to find concrete solutions for our problems that caused the current conditions.
The constituents of Brooklyn — and the Brooklyn Public Library — would welcome an audit of the Brooklyn Library system. The architects of the “public library selloff” say that after the new library is built, when books are displaced, library users will be able to come in and order a book and have to return two days later in order to get it. My 11th grade daughter recently ordered two books from the library and it took 9 and 11 days to receive them at the branch. This is before storing or removing the books from our current branch.
There is a half of a shelf of art books in the Brooklyn Heights Branch. When I asked the librarian about it he said that "they do the best that they can." There was not even a single book on Picasso or Matisse, two of the most important and timeless artists in the history of mankind. I mentioned that my daughter Giovanna is in 11th grade, and we have visited competitive colleges where on every tour the libraries are a shining beacon of the university. Our library system used to be the envy of the world; now we are struggling to keep branches open and shelves stocked with basic books. Something is desperately wrong here, and it won't be solved by demolishing historic buildings.
Please support the landmarking of all of the Carnegie Libraries in Brooklyn and find fiscally sound solutions that fit the current maintenance needs of the entire library system. The RFP for the Brooklyn Heights Library was issued before any representatives of the community had an opportunity to find alternatives to selling off our beloved branch to a private developer to build yet another 20-story tower to pay for repairs of a library system underfunded and not maintained. "Library-gate" is a citywide issue and we hope that you will firmly join us against the sale and shrinkage of our library system.
I welcome the opportunity to spend time walking through the Brooklyn Heights Library at your earliest convenience and discuss alternatives to the current plans to sell off our public libraries because of mismanagement by both the previous Mayoral administration and the Brooklyn Public Library itself.
Doreen Gallo, Director
DUMBO Neighborhood Alliance