Cutting the NYPL Hours is the Wrong Decision

A library is more than a space to take out and return books. It is a community center, a meeting space, and an opportunity to spread our figurative wings.

If the recent article in Gothamist is true, then the New York Public Library may be cutting its hours and staff in the new year due to city budget cuts.

Obviously, I am not privy to the specific numbers coming from the city or the library itself. I also understand that in this situation, hard decisions have to be made.

That being said, I would argue for keeping the status quo as much as possible.

  1. As much as I am a bookworm, I cannot afford to buy every book that I have borrowed. Nor do I have unlimited space on my shelves.
  2. It is more than a place to borrow books. I’ve been to a number of classes and lectures over the years, mostly relating to my career and keeping my computer skills up.
  3. Not everyone has the money to purchase their own computer.
  4. It gives the kids a safe place to stay after school and get some extra tutoring if need be.
  5. Some locations may offer movie screenings and author talks. There is nothing better than connecting with an author on a one-to-one level.
  6. The bathrooms. When mother nature calls, there aren’t many places in which restrooms that are open to the public.
  7. There can be social and learning opportunities. The branch I go to offers language classes for non-English speakers and niche events for specific interests.
  8. One of the things I have personally taken advantage of is job coaching. Private coaches can charge hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for their work. The library offers a number of services in regard to finding new employment.

Only time will tell when and when the ax falls. But I hope that the Mayor and the City Council will consider the importance of this institution.


Bill de Blasio, the Anti Semite?

I think it is fair to say that anyone with a reasonable amount of intelligence these days would say that Covid-19 has forced all of us to adjust how we live. I think that it is also fair to say that given the current crisis, it would behoove those in the halls of power to work together.

Last night was the funeral of Rabbi Chaim Mertz, who according to press reports, died from complications from Covid-19. As is the custom in Hasidic and Orthodox Judaism, the funeral was public with thousands of mourners crowding the streets in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg. In normal times, this would be a non-news issue for all but the local community. But we are not living in normal times.

According to an article in Gothamist, the Police department knew about this before hand. But yet, Mayor Bill de Blasio accused the entire Jewish community of New York City of breaking the social distancing rules.

The problem that I have with his accusation is that instead of specifically pointing the finger at those in attendance, he blamed every Jew in New York City. I am a Jew and I live in New York City. Was I at this funeral? No. He should be putting the blame on those who were there, not on all practitioners of that particular religious identity. He should have also spoken to his police officials before making this kind of accusations.

Last week was Yom Hashoah. Given our current political climate, the recent climactic (and bloody) events in Jewish history and the extreme rise in antisemitism, I would think twice before making such a comment.

Which is why I did not vote for this man and will be more than happy to see him out of office when his term ends.

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