Library trustee removals on sound footing
Jul 30, 2014 | 1208 views | 0 0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In an unprecedented move, eight members of the Queens Library Board were swiftly removed last week, as Mayor Bill de Blasio and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz revealed how they feel about the issue of separation of library and state.

There isn't any.

While the members of the library board we spoke with were quite upset and surprised by the move, Katz maintains that she reached out to meet with the six members appointed by her that were eventually removed..

She even scheduled a meeting with the board members at Borough Hall that was only attended by her.

All of the board members who were removed voted against firing library president and CEO Thomas Galante. The trustees were Jackie Arrington, Joe Ficalora, William Jefferson, Grace Lawrence, Terri Mangino and George Stamatiades.

After stories surfaced a few months ago that Galante, a $400,000 a year employee of the Queens Library, had another job and possibly used library monies for a lavish personal office, the integrity of the Queens Public Library was damaged. We can’t agree more.

Even though the trustees we spoke with said Galante helped save the borough's library system, there is an overall appearance of impropriety. And that does not bode well for the people who give to the library.

As for the transparency of the budget, the city comptroller had to start litigation in April 2014 to try to get full access to the books of the Queens Library. City taxpayers fund nearly $80 million of the $125 million budget. We deserve to see what’s going on.

As for the average Joe in Queens, we just wonder whether this board really understood the needs of the library user. Why the branches are not open weekends, when kids and adults are not in school or work, is beyond comprehension.

Close on a Monday or a Tuesday, but keep the libraries open when the kids can use them.

Private libraries?

The library system in Brooklyn is hardly without its flaws either.

The Brooklyn Public Library is considering selling or one-third of its Red Hook branch to a group that would turn it into dance studios. Libraries are public institutions, and we worry that if we begin to sell them off, they become the property of those who can afford them.

That's not longer a community library system.

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