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Girl Scouts troop fights to save Pacific branch library

The Brooklyn Paper
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A passionate troop of Girl Scouts has taken matters into their own adorably tiny hands.

Civic-minded youngsters from Troop 2657 have joined the fight to save Park Slope’s beloved Pacific branch library from being sold off and possibly demolished by starting their very own petition to preserve the borough’s first Carnegie branch.

Library officials plan to sell the historic branch, built in 1903, and use the proceeds to create a more modern facility inside a skyscraper slated to rise nearby, rather than shell out $11 million to repair to the old structure — but not if the Girl Scout troop that meets there every week has anything to do with it.

“Me and the Girl Scouts are looking to save the library and make it a landmark. That way no one can ever knock it down,” said eight-year-old Jordan Candelario of Staten Island, who thought up the idea to start a petition after learning of the plan. “If they knock down the library then we would need to look somewhere else to hold our meetings.”

The 17-member troop — made up of homeschooled five-to-10-year-old girls from across Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Manhattan — gathers at the spacious community meeting room on the second floor of the Classical Revival-style library every Wednesday afternoon, where they meet to do badge work and partake in activities like arts and crafts.

“I love it — it’s a great place with a gigantic meeting room,” said nine-year-old Nini Kauffman-O’Hehir, who told her troop about the Brooklyn Public Library’s plan to sell off the un-landmarked branch after she heard about it from her mother, Leslie Kauffman. “I’ll be very upset if they tore down the library.”

The troop hand delivered its paper petition to Comptroller John Liu at a recent rally at City Hall where little Candelario read out loud the petition that she wrote in her own words directed towards elected officials including Liu, Mayor Bloomberg, Councilman Steve Levin (D–Boerum Hill), and Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

The petition signed by all the scouts and their parents asks that the library on Fourth Avenue be kept open for the following reasons:

•“Libraries change the world.”

•“Our Girl Scouts meetings are held there. The girl scouts need this space.”

•“The world depends on libraries for kids’ education.”

•“Office space does not help make the world a better place. Libraries and Girl Scouts does.”

•“This library is part of the neighborhood. It has been around since 1903 and our kids love it.”

Troop leader Virginia McAllister, who started the troop a year ago, said that, when looking for a space free of charge to hold the weekly meetings, she thought of the Pacific branch because of its central location that is accessible by 11 different subway lines.

“I feel really lucky to have been able to secure that location, but I don’t know that I’d be able to find another one,” said the Fort Greene resident, whose daughter Paige is one of the Girl Scouts.

“It’s a terrible plan, but it’s been an experience to see these girls grow into people,” said McAllister. “I can’t wait to see them grow up and become leaders, because that’s what the Girl Scouts is all about.”

The public meeting rooms in the Pacific branch are not only used by the Girl Scouts, but also by dozens of other community and civic groups.

Library officials say that they plan — replacing a branch that they cannot afford to repair on its annual maintenance budget of $15 million, with a brand new, slightly bigger branch inside a planned 32-story tower two blocks away across Flatbush Avenue — would be a benefit to the troop.

“The library is pursuing this plan with girls like them in mind,” said Brooklyn Public Library vice president for government and community relations Josh Nachowitz, who added that the library wants to provide users with “the best possible community space we can, and we think the best way to do that is by building a new branch that will have more flexible meeting spaces and better meeting spaces.”

The Girl Scout troop plans to deliver its petition to Councilman Steve Levin on Wednesday at the Pacific branch. Levin recently sent a letter to the Landmarks Preservation Commission asking that the Pacific branch be given landmark status so it cannot be torn down.

A sale of the branch requires the approval of the City Council, in a process that would not begin until late 2013 or 2014, officials said.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at nmusumeci@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.
Updated 12:17 pm, April 30, 2013
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Reasonable discourse

Charles from PS says:
So we are going to sell the library to a developer. But don't worry, we will rent some space in a private building down the street. This is all that needs to be said ... and here we go again (and again), the corruption and depraved indifference to the public good of transferring public resources and wealth into private hands continues. If we allow our government to give away our libraries, then why not everything else? Water, sewage, police stations, public parks, streets, parking spaces, hospitals, whatever! Maybe they will start to take and sell private land to wealthier people as well. Oh yeh, they already do this ... wake up middle class before they sell you as well.
April 30, 2013, 12:36 pm
Liz from Boerum Hill says:
What a pathetic exploitation of these well-intentioned little kids. What other gross oversimplifications are these homeschooled victims being subjected to? Maybe the library should respond by getting a bunch of adorable little kids in wheelchairs to sign a petition that complains about not even being able to enter that awful building, let alone its “spacious community room.” Don’t the Girl Scouts have a disability awareness badge? What a disgrace. Why is the Brooklyn Paper partaking in this nonsense?
April 30, 2013, 12:41 pm
Brooklyn Red from 4th Avenue says:
Bravo to the girl scouts for speaking so clearly the value of buildings that give a sense of place in a neighborhood.
And Liz, I don't accept your implied assumption that the only way the BPL could address problems with access to the Pacific Branch library (which they are rather suddenly acknowledging)is to tear it down - that's simply foolish.
April 30, 2013, 12:57 pm
Brooklyn Red from 4th Avenue says:
Bravo to the girl scouts for speaking so clearly the value of buildings that give a sense of place in a neighborhood.
And Liz, I don't accept your implied assumption that the only way the BPL could address problems with access to the Pacific Branch library (which they are rather suddenly acknowledging)is to tear it down - that's simply foolish.
April 30, 2013, 12:57 pm
freddy from slope says:
really liz. an architecturally unique building needs to be razed because it was made in a different era? what a sterile world you prescribe.

accessibility is important, but not to the exclusion of all else.

this building, and the one next to it, are slated for large scale development. the library will not be allowed to survive, your reasonings or not.

shame on the city politicians who allow this. shame.
April 30, 2013, 1 pm
Marsha Rimler from brooklyn says:
Kudos to the girl scouts. Yes Libraries do change and save lives and they need not be destroyed but improved. The citizens of Brooklyn need a new BPL President and CEO and if the library Board cannot take care of that we need a new Board. Can you image cutting Summer Library hours at Cadman Plaza due to faulty A/C when the executives had 12 months notice.. These folks with a dismal fundraising record and inability to solve the A/C problem are looking increasingly incompetent.
April 30, 2013, 1:01 pm
Mom from Clinton Hill says:
"Office space does not help make the world a better place." I wish Marty Markowitz were a girl scout.
April 30, 2013, 6:38 pm
Stephen from Williamsburg says:
Regardless of where you stand on the preservation issue, bombarding these girl scouts with only one side of a complex issue then parading them in front of the media and elected officials is in fact exploitive. Has anyone encouraged them to request a meeting with library leadership to discuss the issue? That would teach them a valuable lesson about understanding multiple perspectives and about consensus building as well. As it stands they're being manipulated to defend a position they are not old enough to understand. Shouldn't we be taking opportunities like this to teach kids the value of critical thinking?
April 30, 2013, 8:05 pm
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights says:
Kudos to the girl scouts for taking this civic action.

And I want to thank these same Girl Scouts for also joining with Citizens Defending Libraries on the steps of City Hall (4/18/2013) as City Comptroller John Liu and a slew of others called for an end to the plundering of our public libraries for real estate deals.

Although the sale of the Brooklyn Heights Library and Pacific Branch were addressed at that City Hall event the Brooklyn Paper did not cover that event or any of the rest of the Library Protection Week events. But video of that event, pictures and coverage (and a link to the Citizens Defending Libraries petition with over 10,000 signatures, most of them online) is available here:

http://citizensdefendinglibraries.blogspot.com/2013/02/photo-gallery-cdls-library-protection.html
April 30, 2013, 8:36 pm
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights says:
Kudos to the girl scouts for taking this civic action.

And I want to thank these same Girl Scouts for also joining with Citizens Defending Libraries on the steps of City Hall (4/18/2013) as City Comptroller John Liu and a slew of others called for an end to the plundering of our public libraries for real estate deals.

Although the sale of the Brooklyn Heights Library and Pacific Branch were addressed at that City Hall event the Brooklyn Paper did not cover that event or any of the rest of the Library Protection Week events. But video of that event, pictures and coverage (and a link to the Citizens Defending Libraries petition with over 10,000 signatures, most of them online) is available here:

http://citizensdefendinglibraries.blogspot.com/2013/02/photo-gallery-cdls-library-protection.html
April 30, 2013, 8:37 pm
Jonathan from Brooklyn Heights says:
Those of us fighting the Bloomberg Administration's deliberate defunding of the library system and outrageous plans to sell off the Pacific Branch, Brooklyn Heights and other libraries to real-estate developers were so honored to be joined by Girl Scout Troop 2657 at the City Hall rally on April 18th. Readers should note that the event was very well attended — by citizens, elected officials, civic leaders, political candidates and others.

Those who spoke included:

Carolyn E. McIntyre, organizer and spokesperson for Citizens Defending Libraries
Girl Scout Troop 2657 from Prospect Heights
Zack Winestine, Committee to Save the New York Public Library
Simeon Bankoff, Executive Director, Historic Districts Council
NYC Comptroller John C. Liu
State Senator Velmanette Montgomery
Assemblyman Micah Kellner, chair of the NY State Assembly library committee
City Councilman Robert Jackson
Sal Albanese, candidate for mayor
Yetta Kurland, candidate for City Council in the 3rd District
Ed Hartzog, candidate for City Council in the 5th District
Historian and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Levering Lewis

Full video coverage of the rally is available at: http://www.youtube.com/user/CitizensDefendLibes

Photo galleries of rallies at the Brooklyn Heights and Pacific Branch libraries can be seen at: http://jonathanbarkey.smugmug.com/CitizensDefendingLibraries

Our petition to Save New City Libraries From Bloomberg Developer Destruction counts 9,400 signatories online and over 10,000 total. Readers who wish to view and sign the petition should go to: http://signon.org/sign/save-new-york-city-libraries?source=c.em.mt&r_by=6817161

Other resources:

https://www.facebook.com/CitizensDefendingLibraries
http://citizensdefendinglibraries.blogspot.com/
http://noticingnewyork.blogspot.com/

****
April 30, 2013, 8:46 pm
Raul from Prospect Heights says:
I'm so glad my daughter will be old enough to join this Girl Scout Troop next year.
May 13, 2013, 9:01 pm

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