Hoping to rent a book for free from the government to, I don't know, read on the beach, or help you learn and grow as a person? Well, if you live in Brooklyn Heights, Brownsville, Flatlands, or Clinton Hill, you may be out of luck—with temperatures well into the 90's this week, several Brooklyn libraries have been forced to close their doors.
Which sort of sucks! For the obvious reason that libraries are a cornerstone of "good things the government does for the public"—and a concept it'd probably be tough to push past shitty conservative legislators if it were to be introduced in this day and age—but also, because during heat waves, the city specifically tells people to go to the library. This year, the city has designated 39 Brooklyn libraries as official "cooling centers," but the four closed branches are part of a larger problem—60 libraries and counting are on the waiting list for a total of $300 million worth of repairs, much of which would go towards basic infrastructure needs, like broken boilers and air conditioning.
“While we do have a number of upcoming projects to repair (air conditioning) systems, our ongoing capital funding crisis means there are branches that have to close altogether in heat emergencies because we simply cannot afford the upgrades needed to keep them comfortable," a library spokesperson told the Daily News.
"The library is one of the only options we have," one Brooklyn Heights resident told the paper. "It's a problem for parents, teachers and even the seniors if there are no indoor activities for them in this weather."
So, another type of civic problem in which people who might not be able to afford air conditioning—or hey, just wanted to enjoy public space and information to which they're hypothetically entitled—are severely affected, and everyone else is fine? Cool, just what the city needs.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.