Rich NY town tries to shut down children's library because poor kids might use it

Marilyn sez, "The East Hampton Library on Long Island wants to add a children's room, but the East Hampton Village Zoning Board has blocked it for a year, even though the money for the expansion ($4 mil) has been already been raised by private donations. What's their objection to a children's room at the library?"
Library Director Dennis Fabiszak has said that the East Hampton Village Board of Zoning Appeals has expressed concern that an expanded children's collection would lead to more library usage by those who live in the less affluent areas of Springs and Wainscott...

The proposed 6,800-square-foot addition to a community that includes Martha Stewart, Rudolph Giuliani, and Katie Couric as summer residents would enable the library to add 10,000 additional children's books to the library's collection. Last year, the Long Island library ranked last for books available per child...

The library serves not only the Village of East Hampton but also the less affluent communities of Springs and Wainscott.

Library Expansion in Posh NY Hood Goes On (Thanks, Marilyn!)


  1. Look I’m not very bright.
    It’s a public library…right?
    Don’t those opposing this understand the irony?

  2. Give these low-rent kids a beer, explain to them the new Jim Crow(ley) laws and send them back to da ‘hood.

  3. Clearly, the ENTIRE library needs to be closed, then moved to either Springs or Wainscott where the locals will be more willing to suck it up and endure the visits from the self-absorbed trophy brats from East Hampton.

  4. Rich people are rich because we as a society say so. When rich people decide to divorce themselves from society, maybe society should remind them what real riches are?

  5. Even in the most insularly rich parts of the U.S., that kind of naked class discrimination can get people summarily fired.

    There is every reason to push for that to happen.

  6. Irony is completely lost on morons. The Feds need to step in and make sure public libraries remain available to the public, not just to the “animals who are more equal than others.”

  7. Hirsty @1
    Look I’m not very bright.
    It’s a public library…right?
    Don’t those opposing this understand the irony?

    I don’t know whether you intended that as poetry, but it actually scans really well. It’s a promising beginning for a protest song. Anybody with more musical ability than me want to continue it?

  8. jackie31337 @8

    Ha! Please. As an old mate of mine has said;
    “Take all you want, but eat all you take.”

  9. Let me get this straight.
    The Library wants this to happen.
    The people from the “affluent communities” want this to happen.
    The “offending” people from “less affluent communities” want this to happen.
    The State of New York wants this to happen.
    The only people that are against it are the zoning board? That makes perfect sense.

  10. From the article:

    “Despite the disagreement with the village government, its celebrity-laced community supports the library. On August 8, Alec Baldwin, Candace Bushnell, and Jay McInerney will host will be joined by more than 100 other authors to support the library expansion at an Authors’ Night.”

  11. This is not a public library it is privately funded library. There are many of them across the country, and they are all for the wealthy in their gated communities. You know the ruling class.

  12. Look, I know that this comment thread is going to be really long and hate on the wealthy, but as a librarian myself let me tell you, I agree with these good people and let me tell you while.

    -Poor children are rambunctious. They run around and make noise and can often be disruptive

    -Children from less affluent parents enjoy video games and cartoons not great works of literature like Nabokov or Fitzgerald.

    -Less affluent families sometimes speak other languages. How many languages of books would they have to but at this library? Do you know how many languages there are in the world?

    -Poor Children’s diets are made up of low quality foods, often gruel and wormy hardtack. The library cannot provide treats of this quality for storytime.

    -The arts and crafts programs for more affluent children (“Paint your own fabrege egg” and “Money Origami”) would leave poor children out.

    -Less affluent children might be tempted to believe that books are free. What will happen if they should, perhaps while on a bathroom break from their mall job or road crew, find themselves in a bookstore. We could be condemning these children to a life of crime.

    In short, my modest proposal is to keep these poor children away from the library. For their own good.

    -MG Farrelly

  13. I’m sceptical. Would anyone on that board actually say something like that? Of course, they’d definitely think it and act upon it, but I’m sure that if you look at what they said they found some way to weasel-word it.

  14. Sounds like the Zoning Board needs to be taken over the knee and adminstered a swift and severe spanking.

  15. I volunteer for a lot of events at my local library (judged the Battle of the Bands last night, helping with a teen writing workshop next friday), so I see how important they are to everyone in a community and what a difference an expansion such as this would make.

    I can’t believe the zoning board is actually blocking something that would better the lives of those in the community, especially children.

  16. @MG Farrelly

    You Sir are either the most misguided soul or the worst bigot ever to post in Boing Boing. Your lack of concern and empathy for the plight of the poor leaves me spechless.

    Did you even stop to consider for one moment the important service that the library provides for the parents of those poor children?

    In your haste to express your hate and elitism against the poor you failed to realize that without the extended children section at the library, those poor families will be forced to find other alternatives to store their children. These alternatives will no doubt cost them money and strain their already precarious economies.

    I hope it would be clear even for such petty intelects as yours that this extra storage expense will deprive poor people from the financial benefits they get from eating their own poor children.

    Next time, please take time to ponder the implications of your “modest” proposals, or better still, try to learns some economics.

  17. East Hampton zoning also doesn’t like wind turbines.

    It’s almost like they’re trying very hard to give conservatives ammunition.

    Tezcatlipoca, MG Farrelly was referencing Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” a satirical essay in which Swift proposed to solve the Irish Famine by eating the children of Ireland. (it’s a sad state of affairs that I have to actually explain that).


    I know. Why do you think I wrote: “this extra storage expense will deprive poor people from the financial benefits they get from eating their own poor children” ?

    It seems I am quite bad at irony myself.

    I curse you for forcing me to face the sad state of my writing skills!

  19. Tezcatlipoca,

    As a short hand to say “this is satire” people will use the word “modest” or the phrase “modest proposal” as an indicator, referencing as BOBBYMIKE said, Swift’s classic essay “A Modest Proposal,” a thorough tongue-lashing to the exact kind of people who would want to ban poor children from a public library.

    Wow that was a long sentence.

    Anyhoo, it’s a good read and I invite anyone within arm’s reach of a public library to go and borrow a copy. Better yet, donate a copy to this library or send one to the zoning board.

  20. those guys are killin’ me lol

    as far as the hamptons library thing, I am not surprised :( it’s not about library services it’s about celebrities and image. they don’t want “those who live in the less affluent areas of Springs and Wainscott” in the TOWN and if expanding the library attracts them then they won’t do it.

  21. @#19 The east end of Long Island is one of the most conservative areas of New York historically speaking. I know I grew up there.

    This kind of reasoning is actually a bit of a problem out in the Hamptons. Southampton has similar restrictions on its public library, last i checked they restrict membership in really weird ways. Sometimes they’ll tell you only year round residents can use the library other times its any resident of Southampton town as a whole, other times its just residents of Southampton Village. A lot of times it boils down to White Folks without accents get to use the library. Both Bridgehampton and Southampton are bizarrely paranoid about children using the Library in general, and especially anyone from a nearby less affluent town using it.

    The really, really odd thing is this. Most of the residents of the Hamptons are plumbers, fishermen, nurses, restaraunt people, cops and the like. Blue collar or low level white collar. They’re all solidly middle class and firmly disgusted by the Elite Rich folk who seem to feel their the only thing out there. Its basically the central villages which are tourist spots, and the the small clusters of giant mansions that fit the stereotype of the Hamptons and nothing else.

    Unfortunately these areas and the people who live/stay there are more and more often the sole focus of local govt and development. Its kind of a problem on the whole of the east end. Everything goes toward attracting tourism and increasingly rich part time residents. There are no jobs outside the tourist sector or owning your own business (usually in the tourist sector) and there’s nowhere to live unless you’ve got a couple million on hand. The entire region shuts down after october, until May hits.

  22. You are right ryuthrowsstuff, it is quite the problem. What is to be done about the insanely wealthy aristocratic class in America that thinks they’re better than everyone?

    I prefer the French solution.

  23. Doesn’t anyone else see the MG Farrelly post as the satire that it is?
    He had me fooled for about two seconds, until it dawned on me that he was putting everyone on.

    as far as the library goes, why do the rich kids need it? They can go to Borders/Barns n Noble and get all the books, dvds and cds they need. I believe that the libary should be lifted (with skyhooks and four strong helicopters) and moved to the poor neighborhood.

    and not to digress too much, but imagine if there were no such thing as a public library. Imagine if they simply didn’t exist. And someone today; some politician or social activist stood up and announced “What we need is a building in every town full of books, cds, dvds, magazines, built by the government; and anyone can come in and read and borrow books FREE OF CHARGE, and return them for more books. And we’ll call it a public library.”
    Can you imagine the reaction to that idea? That person would be called a lunatic, a socialist, and god knows what else.

  24. Letting poor children read would only give them a false belief that we live in an egalitarian society. Better the soft bigotry of low expectations than the hard bigotry of rent-a-cops shooting them before they enter the gated communities of our True Citizens.

    I say, let them look at pictures of cake.

  25. I love the euphemism ‘less affluent’–it’s like Lake Woebegon, except with affluence instead of intelligence.

  26. While we’re contemplating how fucked up it is that development is often guided by classism, we might pause to consider how this same kind of thing happens in less exaggerated ways with non-super rich folks like us as the beneficiaries.

    For example, how would your neighborhood or community react to plans to build a homeless shelter nearby? How about a day labor center for predominantly undocumented immigrants? Or maybe a nightclub that caters to an ethnic/racial minority?

    If you live in a city, how does the city at large deal with these kinds of developments? In my experience, in every city I’ve lived in, these types of places have been deliberately and systematically marginalized: pushed out of the city or in to the very poor parts of town, to ensure that they don’t come into contact with wealthy or middle class people.

    Nobody comes out and admits that’s the reason like they did in this instance. But the motivation is the same: to keep people in different “classes” separate. It’s a cycle: we’re told bad things about people in classes lower than ourselves, and the less contact we have with them, the more likely we are to believe our prejudices.

    Watch for this phenomenon, and consider ways you can keep your own communities from succumbing to it.

  27. For example, how would your neighborhood or community react to plans to build a homeless shelter nearby? How about a day labor center for predominantly undocumented immigrants? Or maybe a nightclub that caters to an ethnic/racial minority?

    If you live in a city, how does the city at large deal with these kinds of developments? In my experience, in every city I’ve lived in, these types of places have been deliberately and systematically marginalized: pushed out of the city or in to the very poor parts of town, to ensure that they don’t come into contact with wealthy or middle class people.

    O noes, a minority-catering nightclub! Whatever shall we do? How shall our urban fabric withstand this assault upon its segregationist privileges? O woe! Alack!

  28. What? No members of the Boing Boing Libertarian Brigade have shown up to remind us that public libraries are socialist?

  29. This is horrible – and what a horrible, useless load of suggestions.

    The solution is simple, ably demonstrated by the new bunch of female terrorists (I know, because they wear burkas) who’ve moved in opposite my house. 30 feet away! Can you believe it!

    They dressed up in posh frocks and shiny shoes, and walked into they house like they were allowed to. Once signed the deeds, they ditched the duds, and assumed their normal dispositions.

    So – Maintain a big cardboard box near the library of CLOTHING, including club blazers, for the po’folk to borrow out prior to their entry to and registration at the library. Keep a comb handy, and also nit-tweezers. Maybe a medic too, and lots of hand sanitation gel.

    God forbid (and lots he hath forbade, previously, prior to mine acquaintance with Him, but now that we’re down, he doth not) that these children remain lacking in narcotics usage checks, for there is no way on earth ANY of the rich brats would ever have had the slightest exposure to any narcotics, prescription meds, or other cerebrally altering substances. The cocaine society does not extend from filthy Colombian growers through to the delicacies of modern American existence – just look at the clean and pristine triumph that is powder-free Palm Beach, with its beautifully kept lawns and speed limits.

    Oh prayers – where is a website or contact to sign up, deride, and heap disdain?

    Maybe they could simply move the library onto someone’s yacht? Anchored in water deep enough to prevent urchins and street filth from managing to swim there? True users could simply motor out, aboard their Donzis and Rivas.

    After all – you don’t want to give them IDEAS!

  30. @ryuthrowsstuff

    A lot of times it boils down to White Folks without accents get to use the library.

    LOL, so the residents don’t get to use the library either? Them Long-Guy-linders have some of the wackiest accents I’ve ever heard!

    Think Little Edie…

  31. okay, a quick bit of research (wikipedia, In know I know) shows that Wainscott’s 600- odd people make and average of $50 000 a year. Not exactly rich but not exactly the ghetto. The “poor” kids can proabaly still drive their own car to the library, but it won’t be a 2010 BMW.

  32. and look – the library is having a childrens’ summer fair!

    Children’s Fair
    The Biggest FREE Children’s Event in East Hampton
    The Children’s Fair features wonderful carnival rides and games, a book fair with children’s book authors signing their books, a raffle with terrific prizes, book-themed craft…
    Host:East Hampton Library
    Time:2:30PM Sunday, August 9th
    Location:East Hampton Library

    @33 don’t be ridiculous, it’ll be a 2011 BMW – they’ll have nicked it. Honestly, have some faith in the ingenuity of poverty.

  33. Hmm. Maybe it’s all true, but I don’t trust a story showing the zoning board in a bad light when the only quotes about the zoning board’s reasoning are from people who aren’t ON the zoning board.

  34. @36 Love ya, but in polite society, yers don’t break ranks if youz wants tuh make it to the cake-round. And if you don’t do that, then your daughter will be forced into marriage with a racially differentiated individual. And have you seen what happens when you mix up gene pools?!

    Horror, shock.

    Y’know, this is just Bush’s New Orleans policy on a small, ignorable scale. Let’s focus on more important things. Now – what was the duty on Talisker this year?

  35. The last thing society needs is for the working class to gain literacy, lest they rise up against their masters.

  36. Oh, East Hampton! I remember when I visited your clean sidewalks 5 or 6 years ago. Upon parking and exiting our car, one or two of your fine families were strolling along when one of the younger, male set experienced an urgent need. He dropped his pants right there and began peeing, and with only a glance, his mother – sporting the white tennis set and big sunglasses that were just so in at the time – grabbed his head and like opening a jar of grey poupon, twisted his little body sideways so that he was no longer peeing directly on the sidewalk, but more towards the curb. Such grace and concern!

    My biggest regret from the trip, which was full of visits to your wine country, was not taking a picture of the East Hampton Church readerboard that read, “The rich ruleth over the poor.”

    Stay classy, East Hampton!

  37. Do the kids of rich people actually read? And if they do, would they really borrow books from a library? Seems unlikely.

  38. What? No members of the Boing Boing Libertarian Brigade have shown up to remind us that public libraries are socialist?

    Naw, that’s too obvious. Zoning Boards are an evil form of government oppression through which majoritarian tyranny squashes the rights of the minority to build what they want.

  39. I’d just like to point out that there is no direct quote from anyone mentioning “less affluent”- that phrase seems completely the point of view of the Library Journal writer. I live on the East End, and to describe Wainscott and Springs as “less affluent” is misleading- it’s still part of East hampton Town, and as an informative poster above has said, there are often arbitrary divisions between “Village” and ” Town”, esp when it comes to public services. Wainscott is not terribly poor, nor is Springs- they’re locals, they may be blue-collar but they do very well- they’re not “poor” by any means.

    I don’t understand what the fuss is in EH either, but the angle of “excluding poor kids” seems mostly in the eye of the School Library Journal writer, rather than a picayune zoning dispute. (East Hampton really is kind of a dickish town though.)

  40. I have to hand it to MG Farrelly…it’s not easy to troll boingboingers.

    However, I will say this. That library is for those that DESERVE IT. If the poor people in the surrounding neighborhoods want good libraries for their kids, let them GO AND EARN THE MONEY AND BUILD THEIR OWN GODDAM LIBRARY.


  41. Kepper of the Lantern:

    actually, those from the less affluent neighborhoods nearby DID HELP PAY FOR THIS LIBRARY. A special tax that they paid into, too, from 1933 to 1991 helped establish the library, and it only became privately tun in 1992.

    So – take your self-righteous rich douchebaggery and stick it.

  42. @48 apologies. A moment of retributory madness.

    @51 – ah, the Dark Ages, you bring back splendid memories. Fire, brimstone, whores, jewels, the splendour of violent exploitation … I could go on, but I tire! What a joyous reminder.

  43. @38 Tavie

    Well, the accent varies greatly all over the island. mine is pretty lousy and hard to shake :( sometimes i make my husband cringe lol he grew up in better parts than me! Anyway, it’s more like “LawnGUYlin” (empahsize Guy)

  44. You guys are missing the really juicy details,
    which are one link away from the story you’re reading.

    “As part of the environmental impact statement outlining the effect of expanding the children’s room, the zoning board has requested that the library provide its exact number of cardholders by each community served and the frequency of each cardholder’s use. The library has refused to supply the information, saying it’s irrelevant to the process. The zoning board also asked that the library consider tabling the project and suggested that local children use their school media centers instead of the public library.”

    And you can rest assured that it’s true, because if I were on the zoning board, and somebody said that about me, I would sue them so hard they’d have to move back to where the subway stops.

    Oh, and this battle has been going on since 2003, and a Google News search shows they are throwing more roadblocks. So nouveau riche. I’m typing this from a half-gentrified suburb of Boston. There is a group home not far from here, right by houses going for 500K. And apropos, if there is a group home on Beacon frikkin’ Hill (which there is), that can be an ample demo of the difference between having wealth and having class.

  45. You’d think the zoning board would have paid some kind of attention to the national press the non-minority swimming pool club received.

    So what do we do?

  46. How about the library, with the money that is already donated, rents a couple, or a whole boat load of, 40 foot shipping containers with shelves in them. Then drop then right in the library parking lot and pack them full with childrens books? That’ll teach those crooks at the zoning board. That is a quick fix that can work, can’t it?

    Just my $ 0.02

  47. Ah 52 (Anonymous) you made my day. I even telegraphed that I was going to troll and you couldn’t help yourself!

    Truth be told, that “Deserve it” thing I wrote was actually an amplified version of something I once heard someone say. I didn’t bother arguing with the idiot because, of course, it’s so obvious on all levels that poor children don’t deserve shitty education (and even if they did, is this really the best way to build a society?)

  48. MG Farelly: thanks for the double scoop of irony.

    Keeper, I rather say that BB commentators are quite often dense when it comes to detect and appreciate irony. I blame their hair-triggered readiness to go into outrage mode for it.

  49. You must be kidding….Is everyone out of their minds…..if we allow the less fortunate to enjoy books and read then we allow those less fortunate kids the same opportunity to learn and grow which makes for a better nation all together…. Knowledge is power…..the less fortunate shouldn’t be deprived….we’re in America for God’s sake!!!!

  50. Honestly, this smells more of grumpy old people with no where else to go during the day and wanting to keep all children out of the library. They were stumped for coming up with a good excuse for keeping children out of the library, age discrimination and, this was the best they could come up with, lame.

  51. I used to work in a public library and the “lets keep the “poor ethnic kids” out is not limited to the rich. As once relatively well off, middle class retiree communities started being left to children who inherit the property, the tone of the neighborhood changes. I had staff members who were pushing the old school library users to sign a petition to keep the children of the newer residents out of the library. Discrimination is classless.

  52. This is just sad…Just really sad.

    These people have so much, and they’re worried that less fortunate children may use a library?

    They should be ashamed; people in that community should

    Discrimination can be classless, as other peoplehave said – but when a PUBLIC library in an extremely wealthy are behaves this way about children that are SUPPOSED to be served by that library, who paid tax like everyone else – I’m speechless.

    Shame on the EHVZB…..We’re going to publicize this – this article is nothing…al new yorkers need to know about this disgusting story.

  53. One thing that some of the people commenting here may not realize is that Springs and Wainscott are NOT poor areas.

    It is all relative. The Hamptons in general (South Fork), including Springs and Wainscott, is one of the richest areas in the entire United States. In fact at one point, the most expensive Zip Code in all of the US was in the Hamptons — Sagaponack.

    So when people read this article they get the impression it’s like LA, where you have sharp disparities of wealth. Gated communities with barrios a few miles away. Trust me, it is not like that in the Hamptons. In general almost everyone there enjoys at least a middle class income. Middle class is poor in the Hamptons.

    So it’s more like,’ oh let’s discriminate against those Springs, Wainscott folk, they drive BMWs instead of Range Rovers. They only have one 500 thousand to 1 million dollar house year round as opposed to our twenty million dollar, vacation home’. You know what I mean?
    I’m not saying the library zoning board is right to discriminate if that is the case, but rather that the entire South Fork area of Long Island is a highly affluent area. You have to drive a good 45 minutes before things start to look like the rest of the country.

  54. This is quite right. It is totally undesirable that thr lower orders should be allowed to mix with us. It is a total mistake to grant them the same degree of anything. No voting. No right to protection by the police. Casteration after production of one child is the only way to deal with these people.

  55. I am quite late obviously but the war continues, with one skirmish won recently- aka the library’s public referendum. A majority was in favor of expansion.
    (An error in the article- there is currently a children’s room and they (the ZBA) are only denying the much needed expansion).
    Now about the issue of poverty in the Hamptons: I proudly say that I am one of the very poor residents East Hampton. I am poor not only by rich tourist standards but by most other standards as well. I also state (with a lesser degree of pride) that I am legally one of those “children” for which you fight so nobly.
    At a young age, I noted that the library’s selection of young adult books was painfully limited, only one side of a bookshelf in fact. This forced me to abandon those teenage novels and pursue better literature.
    I suppose it was all for the best in the end (what other teenager devours Dante and contemporary European politics with my passion?) as I was introduced to adult-oriented books. Although I still cannot find many books in our little public library.
    Knowing the librarians and the Director very well, I know they fight only to right a wrong being commited in our town, famous as it is in the summer, yet only another small town in the cold months.

  56. Shame on you East Hampton Village Board!! Dispicable. Disgraceful. Immoral. Ugly. You’re attitudes smell like rotting meat.

    It all comes back to bite you in the end – karma is a bitch – – and in the end your children and gradchildren will pay for your mistakes.

    And good for those of you who got taken by that financial swindler, it serves you all right. What’s that old bible saying – – It is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get through the gates of Heaven.

    You are all morally bankrupt.

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