Libraries in Crisis

Citizens Defending Libraries (CDL), a group dedicated to preserving and developing libraries in New York—instead of selling them off to real estate developers—held a special night of entertainment on October 10 in Brooklyn.

The evening honored libraries and looked at the forces behind the crises they face. Billed as “an evening of comedy and drama,” CDL presented seven one-act plays, as well as several songs, and a tongue-in-cheek “advertisement.”

The evening opened with songs by blues singer Judy Gorman, Pete Seeger and Leonard Cohen, including the latter’s, “Everybody knows (that the dice are loaded).”

CDL, founded by Carolyn McIntyre and Michael White, is seeking to address the challenge created when, “Mayor Bloomberg defunded New York libraries at a time of increasing public use, population growth and increased city wealth, shrinking our library system to create real estate deals for wealthy real estate developers.” McIntyre and White view that as an unjust and shortsighted plan that will ultimately hurt New York City.”

The mock advertisement presented during the evening of entertainment was a video clip showing a young man asking for books at his local library, but the librarian informs him that they’re no longer available and asks his name. As he suspiciously sidles away, he’s stopped by two plainclothes enforcement officers.

Perhaps the most effective of the plays, written by White, showed a dystopian future, where a man enters an empty space and is addressed by a disembodied computer voice. The place appears to be devoid of books, and is serviced by a friendly, but unhelpful computer.

The Mother Theater Project of the First Unitarian Congregational Society also contributed to the event.