Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My Letter to a Librarian

(I wrote this to the head of the Brooklyn Public Library last summer. I never received a response.)

Dear Ms. Mack-Harvin:

About two years ago, I was walking on a Sunday on Eastern Parkway past the side entrance of the Central Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza. (The front of the library was under renovation; the side entrance was the only entrance at that time.)

It was about 11:30 in the morning; I saw about a dozen young people right outside the side entrance, they were all reading, writing or studying.

When I got a closer look, I noticed a sign that indicated that the library was opening at noon.

I swelled with pride at these young kids. They went to the library, saw that it was not open, and yet they stayed. It made me feel that as long as this country has young people like this, America's future would be bright.

So it was with great sadness that I noticed that the library is no longer open on Sunday. In fact my research indicates that all 58 branches in Brooklyn are closed on Sundays.

Let me be blunt: This is unacceptable. Our public libraries are the golden doors of opportunity, they are the great leveler of American society.

How can this be? Brooklyn is a city of over 3 million people, not one library is available to them on a Sunday? So many people work and go to school all week, they can only get to go to the library on the weekend. Half of their available library time has been wiped out. Not to mention those who can only make it to a library on a Sunday; the doors to learning have been shut in their face.

The public library is an intellectual gymnasium, available to all to exercise the mind. It's a place where anyone can go: the Harvard Grad, the Sarah J. Hale dropout. It's a place where you can literally remake yourself. But now, it's a place that is not open seven days a week. What a shame.

I know you have budget concerns. I know you have unions to deal with. But ultimately, you are going to be judged by how you made the Brooklyn libraries more easily available to the Brooklyn Community.

As for those kids I saw on a Sunday waiting for the library to open, they now have to turn away and go back home. And the sad fact is, some of them will not be back.

Do you want that to be your legacy?

Thanks for reading,


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