The Lawless Library
.....In the sister story, "False Radicals?" we reported how the group CCLP attempted to eject one of our reporters from a public meeting on Landlord/ Tenant law. We attempted several times to contact the Brooklyn Public Library to arrange for a representative to view our tape of the ejection and to give comment. Over a period of 10 days, Valerie Geiss, Manager Media Relations, declined to view the tape, and refused to be interviewed on camera or in person. She stated that her position was that the press were not members of the public. We requested that she check with her superiors which she claims she did. We also asked if the BPL was in accord with events that mislead tenants and evict people on welfare. We offered her an opportunity to issue a written statement to be read on the air, she agreed at first but then refused. Finally she gave the following oral statement:
"The library has the option to bar the press from public events on public property. The library also has the right to bar any members of the public it chooses. The First Amendment only applies to the public, not to the press. The library is a public service institution."
.....For comparison we asked several area libraries for comment on the Brooklyn policy. Off the record several described it as "bizarre", "that makes no sense" and "backwards."
.....At the New York Public Library Ms. Caroline Oyama, Director of Public Relations refused to make any comments about the Brooklyn policy (either on or off the record), but was very willing to state the NYPL policy:
"Anyone is welcome to attend publicly advertised events open to the public at the New York Public Library, including the press."