It has been over two years since the beginning of the recession, and though the economy is slowly recovering, dramatically reduced tax revenues along with higher demand for public services and assistance has left many municipalities with vast budget shortfalls. In order to balance the books, many local governments have had to reduce or even eliminate public services considered to be non-essential, and unfortunately one of the first targets is often the library system.
New York City is no exception to this sad story. The New York Public Library faces a funding cut of $37million, a staggering amount of money whose absence could lead to nearly a dozen branch closures, reduced service days (four per week rather than six), and the elimination of numerous programs for kids and adults. Fortunately NYPL isn’t taking this lying down and has initiated an advocacy campaign called Don’t Close the Book on Libraries, which encourages people to write letters to their representatives on the Library’s behalf and/or donate funds directly to the Library. In order to help get the message out, NYPL has partnered with Improv Everywhere (who describe themselves as a “long form improvisation troupe which executes pre-planned ‘missions’ which usually involve socially awkward or unusual situations.”) to produce a viral video in the library. Specifically, they decided to stage a sort of recreation of a scene from the 1984 film Ghostbusters which was shot in the Rose Main Reading Room. You can watch video of the “mission” below:
For pictures and behind the scenes info, head over to the Improv Everywhere website.
Of course, NYPL isn’t the only library system feeling the pinch. The American Library Association has a list of links to websites dedicated to saving the library systems in their states which you can view here.