A Librarian’s Manifesto to SXSW Interactive

Hello from the quiet profession. Hello to all you beautiful dreamers, you benders of time and space, you visionaries of the bright technological future. We love your leaps forward, we love the things you have made possible and we love you for the barriers you will lift away in the days to come.


We welcome you to our journey, the great shift of information and entertainment to people, every people, all the people, everywhere, for free. You create games, design communications interfaces, make work go faster and smarter. You find ways to parse data for the next generation. You make information and entertainment accessible for people.

Librarians have been doing these same tasks for years. We give people knowledge, entertainment, skills, inspiration. We are both outlet and portal. We are the human interface on the great sum total of (wo)mankind’s knowledge and sometimes we can offer that little bit of knowledge that will save your fucking life. If not your life than that of someone you know or someone they know or somebody NOBODY knows but they still found their way through our doors.

While our image may often be dusty and bespectacled there is an innate trust in our brand. If a librarian told it to you then it is probably true. That trust can extend to your idea if you convince us that it works. Everyone can access us and most everyone trusts us. It is an amazing network to use to get the word out, your word, any word whatever word that may be.

Libraries have always been tech friendly. We created MARC and OPAC and we did it fifty years ago. In the new paradigm libraries are increasingly active in knowledge acquisition using direct training and resources to grow job readiness, small business growth, and personal development. We don’t just sit there and wait for people to come and pull down the knowledge to their best abilities. No in the modern library we take an active part in training and the intellectual development of our users.

Find a librarian at SXSW Interactive, there are going to be a lot us there. Your perceptions and expectations of the profession will be challenged. There is a good chance that the librarian you meet will be cooler than you. Think about how you are going to deal with that. Open your perceptions, show us your library card and impress us with just how wonderfully beautifully fantastically brilliant you are. Then let’s use that to MAKE something and to impact our communities for the better.infomedic



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Difficult Decisions & Necessary Testimony

Urban Librarians Unite supports the decision to sell limited library properties to address the Capital Budget shortfall. We see this as a difficult decision and a last ditch remedy to a problem that has been decades in the making. This problem has gotten so bad that real solutions must be found. While there is still much discussion to be had about the particulars of each location these plans ultimately offer an immediate practical solution which will afford the best result for the most library users.

While we wish that this was not happening we see it as a painful but necessary choice.

Download (PDF, 91KB)

Posted in Library Advocacy, Uncategorized

Get your Katniss on with ULU

(Of course, we will all totally be this classy!)

Yeah that is right: archery tag. It is perfectly safe, perfectly fun, and a perfectly great way to liven up your October. It is pretty much like the name says: dodgeball with bow and arrow. Come run around like an idiot, meet some fellow ULU-ans and have some laughs with us.

Indoor Extreme Sports
47-11 Van Dam Street
LIC, NY 11101
7 train to  33rd and Rawson

Thursday October 17th at 8pm
Tickets are $25

Once you have purchased a ticket, please fill out the waiver here, and print it to bring with you on the day of the event.

Posted in Events!

What? Why on earth would we be ok with that?!

Last week the Wall Street Journal published an article detailing how many NYC schools are in violation of state regulations requiring a school librarians in each secondary school. It was quickly covered by other outlets as well.

Wall Street Journal
The Atlantic
Epoch Times

The NYC DOE has certified school librarians in only half of the city’s secondary schools. Rather than fix this glaring problem, the NYC Department of Education is now requesting a waiver from the state so that they will not have to meet this standard. Obviously school librarians are essential components of any school, most especially moving forward with the common core curriculum.

You can help. We have started a petition to send the state education commissioner and the Board of Regents, I hope you will sign, and pass it on to your colleagues and friends to sign as well.


Our letter to Commissioner King at the Board of Education.

Download (PDF, 156KB)

Our students deserve school libraries.


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ULU Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire – Christine Quinn

Candidate Name

Christine Quinn

In your opinion, what is the role of the library in the City?

The only thing I ever wanted to do was be involved in politics and government—I attribute this almost exclusively to the library at my parish elementary school, St. Patrick’s. It contained a section on biographies of political people, famous people, and famous women—from Susan B. Anthony to Eleanor Roosevelt—and I loved those books. I read them till they were dog-eared. Libraries are extremely personal to me, and I know how important they can be. They are special, peaceful places where job-seekers can learn new skills, immigrants can get information on how to assimilate and access services, residents without computers can use the internet, or people can just shut out noise and distractions and focus on a book in silence.  I named my autobiography “With Patience and Fortitude” after the marble lions in front of the Public Library on 5th Avenue in part as a tribute to the things that have a special, permanent place in the lives of New Yorkers, and our library system is among them.  I am proud of our libraries and look forward to supporting them as mayor.

Libraries in New York City are facing $106.7M in cuts in the current executive budget. What would you do to prevent the “budget dance” of proposed cuts and restorations that New York’s libraries have been forced to endure for the past four years?

I avoided the budget dance altogether when I made sure the $106.7 million stayed in the budget.  I personally find library closings unthinkable and believe that we will simply have to continue making library funding a top priority.  I have protected library funding consistently for the past eight budgets as Speaker, and I will make sure this pattern continues as mayor.

In March of this year, District Council 37 launched a campaign for the establishment of a permanent funding stream for the City’s public library systems, proposing “city legislation to allocate 2.5 percent of existing citywide property tax levies for dedicated, baseline public library funding.” Would you support such a baseline funding model for our libraries, and why or why not?

In 2006, I worked to establish a baseline of six-day service for all our public libraries across the City.  Despite the 2008-2009 recession, I have fought to maintain library services at as close to that level as possible, and I will bring back full six-day service when I’m mayor. If we had been required to maintain the same level of library services throughout the recession and the recovery, we would have had to make deeper cuts elsewhere.  I do believe in baseline funding for libraries in order to avoid the annual cuts and restorations, and to enable libraries to better plan for the future, but I believe that committing to a dedicated funding stream is a mistake because it restricts the City’s fiscal flexibility.

New York City’s three public library systems are open an average of 43 hours a week, compared to roughly 50 hours a week in Chicago and Boston, 55 in Toronto and 70 at the Columbus Metropolitan Library (Ohio). How would your administration support public libraries in New York City in order to expand hours and services?

I agree that New York’s libraries should expand hours and services.  We need to be a leader in this area, given how many people live in this city and rely on our libraries.  As mayor I will fight to increase library hours, bringing back six-day service with a goal of seven-day service when funding allows. Our libraries are critically important to the people of this city and I believe they should be open as much as possible.

Public libraries are commonly known as “the people’s university,” providing resources and services for young adults, English-language learners, small businesses, job seekers, seniors, and more. What would you do to help libraries in their work to support lifelong learning for all ages?

I recently proposed using the city’s 206 libraries as community resource centers, or “Mini City Halls,” improving delivery and access of services.  Under this plan, libraries will serve as a one-stop shop for New Yorkers seeking help navigating access to important programs and services.  With Mini City Halls, we’ll bring all that City Hall has to offer right to New Yorker’s doorsteps. This program will be community-specific, providing health screening, English lessons and tax preparation help, as well as many other services.   Additionally, as I mentioned above, the most important step in helping libraries in their work is keeping them open, and I will continue to make this a priority when I am mayor.

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