Re: Donnell Media Center in Jeopardy

From: George Robinson (email suppressed)
Date: Mon Nov 12 2007 - 08:54:20 PST

I cannot speak to the state of the building structurally, but I know
that the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system is decrepit
and I can tell you from first-hand experience that the plumbing sucks.

I don't understand why the initial impulse of so many list-members is to
assume that the NYPL is conspiring against its own facilities. I have
several close personal friends among the city system's librarians and
they are deeply committed to the integrity of their collections and
profoundly concerned for the availability of materials to users. Library
jobs pay badly (remember, it's a field that has traditionally been
dominated by women, so the pay and benefits have been deplorable for a
very long time), so the people who take these jobs do so because they
really believe in the idea of public service. And the relationship
between the library system and the politicians in city government has
always been pretty adversarial, so there's little reason to expect the
librarians to roll over and play dead because the city council and/or
the mayor tell them to.

As for the prospects for a new building, if you want to see what one of
these private-public partnerships looks like in action, go to the
Morningside branch of the NYPL, at 113th St. and Broadway. This is a
replacement for the old Columbia branch, which was tucked away in a tiny
corner of the university's Butler Library building. When the University
bought several buildings at the new location in order to tear them down
and put up a new one, they included a new library as part of the
package. You can judge for yourself but I think it's a huge improvement
in every single way (not to mention adding another public restroom to a
neighborhood that didn't have a wealth of them).

George Robinson

J. Mabe wrote:
> I was quite worried about this news, so I did a little
> asking around, and Ill post here the info I got.
> Basically, the collection and staff will continue on
> at a new location somewhere where theyll be
> considered a research collection instead of part of a
> branch (which I think is pretty good news). In the 3
> or 4 years between the time they become a research
> collection and the time they have to leave the current
> building, they will continue to provide service at a
> temporary spot not far from the current Donnell. They
> continue to get support from the library
> administration so I guess the only things that are
> changing are the building and the films now being part
> of a proper research collection.
> (and for whats its worth Ive heard nothing but
> terrible things about the building itself from
> multiple people so maybe its all good news)
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