Beep: City should take over, merge library systems

Beep: City should take over, merge library systems
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Mayor DeBlasio should merge the Brooklyn Public Library with the rest of New York’s library systems and place the whole operation under the control of the city’s Department of Education, says Borough President Adams.

“Our library systems are wrong,” said Adams last week in an interview at the offices of Community News Group, the parent company of this paper. “I think the greatest thing the mayor can do is say, ‘I am no longer going to allow these separate branches.’ Put this all under the DOE budget, have this be an extension of the department of education.”

The borough’s cash-strapped library system — which the city gives some money to but is ultimately a private company responsible for raising its own funds — is struggling to repair its crumbling facilities and is planning to sell off some of its sites to developers to help it stay afloat.

But the Beep said the book-lending service is an essential educational resource that shouldn’t have to go begging for donations to keep its buildings standing and that the city needs to take it over.

“They should not have to come with a cup in their hand every year to get coins to pay for the capital projects that need to get done,” said Adams, who added that he does nevertheless support building housing on top of existing libraries — so long as it includes apartments for seniors and below-market-rate units.

Adams said a unified, city-run library system could partner its branches with local schools and would be more forward-thinking than today’s paper-pushing institutions. He said he envisions book-free libraries and small outlets in storefronts where kids could access information they need for free digitally.

“We no longer need shelves of books in libraries to look impressive,” he said. “We feel as though the more books we have, the smarter we are. No.”

And local computer-centric libraries where kids could go after school would also help ween teachers off a textbook-based education, he said.

“There’s no reasons to still allow the book industry to control our learning environment,” said the Beep, who said he has had several conversations with library officials about his ideas.

Adams also discussed a number of other hot topics at the meeting, including:

Controversial car-service Uber, which he said he is backing in its ongoing high-profile fight against city hall. Adams said he does support some taxi industry regulation, but not the proposal to cap the number of new livery cabs — which he said would unfairly target fast-growing startups like Uber and its ilk.

He said pols need to get out of the way of the innovative car service, which has made it easier for people of color and those who live in the outer boroughs to get rides.

“My son is able to pick up his phone no matter where he is and, instead of arguing about the fact that yellow cabs pass him by because of how he looks, he’s now able to just have his Uber car come pick him up,” said Adams of his 19-year-old offspring.

Re-paving the area around Borough Hall Plaza. He predicts the steps of the People’s House — also known as Brooklyn’s Stoop — will be out of commission for the rest of summer while workers lay down new tiles to replace the old, crumbling bluestone slabs.

Gov. Cuomo and rent regulation. Adams slammed Cuomo for not protecting the city’s renters during the state government’s heated debate over rent regulations, comparing his actions to President Gerald Ford’s refusal to bail the city out when it was facing bankruptcy in 1975.

“He has really turned his back on New York City and basically drew from the great terms of Ford telling New York City to drop dead,” said Adams.

Eric Garner’s death. The former cop said he would not support a ban on police officers employing the kind of chokeholds officer Daniel Pantaleo used on Garner — he said police shouldn’t have to limit their options in the heat of a physical confrontation — but that authorities need to be retrained to resolve conflicts without immediately resorting to lethal force.

Brooklyn Terminal Market. The Beep did not seem to have made much headway on his pre-election plan to re-develop the Canarsie bazaar into a gourmet destination where restaurants grow all their produce on hydroponic “vertical farms.”

• This year’s crushing loss to the Bronx and its borough president Ruben Diaz, Jr. in the annual inter-borough handball contest. Adams half-jokingly accused his competition of deflating the ball and also said Diaz chickened out of a best-dressed competition.— with Ruth Brown

Reach reporter Harry MacCormack at hmaccormac[email protected]local.com or by calling (718) 260–2511.