Ghostbusters attack budget cuts at the New York Public Library

David from the New York Public Library sez, "We're facing a crippling proposed budget cut at the NYPL - so we called Improv Everywhere, who recreated Ghostbusters in our main reading room to a delighted crowd of onlookers to see if they bust budget cuts as well as they bust ghosts. We could use all the support we can get right now in changing minds at City Hall."

Who You Gonna Call? (Thanks, David!)


  1. Not the best thing Improv Everywhere has done, and I’m not sure what any of that had to do with budget cuts.

    My favorite part of the video was the guy at 1:08 who slowly mouths “what the f–k?”

  2. Fun video and quite an amusing prank to pull, but I fail to see how it showcases the budget cuts. Didn’t hiring these guys require a budget expenditure?

  3. needs Slime or a dance or Marshmallow or lack of video camera which would make it more powerful in the mind’s eye/memory.

  4. The intent is to generate attention for the issue the library is facing.. motivating people to action. Politicians grease the squeaky wheel, so if enough people start squeaking eventually they’ll get what they want.

    Considering the video is getting spread all over the internet now, I’d say it’s done a great job generating attention.

    1. Wow, that video was a complete waste of time. It seems completely stupid to try to get politicians to grease the squeaky wheel with taxpayer money that simply doesn’t exist. Reason enough for cuts in the first place, no? Too many people have squeaked about wanting too many things and they all require funding. Instead of adding another burdening tax or simply having the city continue to take on debt, why doesn’t the library take matters into it’s own hands? Why can’t they have a fundraiser or raise dues or late fees or whatever? The possibilities are endless as long as they have a little bit of creativity. Just keep the politicians out of it, they’re useless!

      1. They do have fundraising. They have a “donate” button on their page — $66,000 out of $100,000, which is quite good. But the proposed cut is in the tens of millions. I don’t think all the homebaked cupcakes in the world or even the glitziest gala could pull that kind of money.

        Politicians control the public purse strings, so it’s more than appropriate for a public institution to go to them for money.

        1. @ Gloria
          If fundraising and limited taxpayer dollars are not enough to sustain this public library, then perhaps it is time for said organization to reevaluate the services that it provides. I imagine they provide things that go far beyond the scope of books and newspapers. This is a typical problem of ALL government based entities. They start off small and with a singular purpose, but once tax dollars are introduced they inflate endlessly. The library wants people to lobby city hall for more money, but what is the library doing to lower it’s overhead? On top of that, the money they want comes from the same taxpayer funded trough that all other government entities feed from. A trough that is in serious trouble, mind you. Would you rather have a library/internet cafe/Godknowswhatelse than a police and fire rescue force, dmv, hospitals, schools, teachers, port authority, etc… The list goes on forever and unfortunately with todays economy the library is going to be at the bottom of the list. Too bad. We as citizens are expected to live within our budgets (which can be severely crippling), why can’t a government entity be expected to do the same?

          1. Libraries and the arts are always cut first, but it’s shortsighted to do so. They really do provide important services to the public. Without them you get a lot of unhappy and stupid citizens, which has its own costs.

            As for raising late fees to increase revenue, that is such a dumb idea.

          2. @F Mitchell
            You’re absolutely right in saying libraries and art are always the first to get cut. But in saying it is shortsighted is in itself very shortsighted. I agree that these things provide an important service to the public. However, to insinuate that without government funded services they would both disappear leaving behind a lot of unhappy and stupid citizens is just plain wrong. These services are also provided to the public by non governmental organizations like churches and other civic groups. Many of them are free and some cost a small fee. Many are run by VOLUNTEERS, and not some government employee or contractor.

            I recently moved to another city, as happens often to me. It’s about a thousand times smaller than New York City. The first thing I did was look for one of the freebie local newspapers that shows the goings on of the town. It’s necessary when always trying to keep activities fresh for the kiddos. In it there are probably about a hundred different arts related activities for children, teens and adults. Things like sculpture, ballet, gymnastics, painting, latin dancing and acting. A majority of them being free. None of them government provided and taxpayer funded. I’m sure NYC or any other city in the State being many times larger then where I’m at would have the same, only more.

            Sure raising late fees is a dumb idea, but it’s an idea so I tossed it out there. So what? It’s not as dumb as asking people to push City Hall to fund a yet another government entity that lacks fiscal responsibility! Oh, and with what money are they supposed to fund an expanded library budget?

          3. Maybe *you* don’t need the library, but hundreds of thousands of people each year do. And most libraries are not staffed by government employees, and I have yet to see one staffed by contractors, other than the odd Security Officer and such.

          4. @Anon
            Heaven forbid a citizen ask that a government funded library be fiscally responsible. I never wrote that I didn’t need libraries. I simply made a point that they’re providing services that go well beyond their scope of just being a library. I also made the point that they’re not a monopoly on providing those services. There are other options for the arts, literature and internet that are just as good if not better. It’s ridiculous to ask people to lobby City Hall to give the library a larger budget when there are other more important government entities that REQUIRE the funding. Would you rather have a fully funded police force or library? I can tell you that without a well funded police, NYC would be back to the 70’s in a heartbeat. You do remember the 70’s in NYC right? What about education? Or public housing, sanitation or mass transit. The list goes on and on. Unfortunately libraries are at the bottom. Too bad. If the library has to cut services to stay within a budget than so be it. It doesn’t mean the library goes away (or that I don’t want them), it means they have to revert to their original purpose. Time for the library to tighten it’s belt and deal with it.

          5. “I recently moved to another city, as happens often to me. It’s about a thousand times smaller than New York City.”

            “I can tell you that without a well funded police, NYC would be back to the 70’s in a heartbeat. You do remember the 70’s in NYC right?”

            Tourists. Think they know everything.

          6. “Tourists. Think they know everything”


            You do realize the same could be said of New Yorkers. But here’s an idea for you phil. How about if you’re going to comment you formulate an actual idea of what you think about the topic instead of making an attempt at insulting somebody you don’t even know.

    1. But the video doesn’t work as a standalone act. A good viral video about an issue explains the issue witin the video. If I posted this on my facebook page, without explaining that the library did this because of budget cuts, it is worthless. The chain only has to get broken in one place, and then from there, it will spread without any explanation of the issue at hand. Every time this video is reposted, or sent to someone, they need accompany it with an explanation.

      1. Well, it’s not at the very forefront, but there’s a message at the end (“don’t close the book on the NY library”, etc.) plus a YouTube note (I think … dunno how those things work).

        I agree that it could be *more* effective by placing the impetus at the beginning — where more people are likely to see it — but it’s not like it’s completely standalone.

      2. Case and Point, Gizmodo posted the video with nary a mention of budget issues, so anyone who sees the video on that page is going to have any idea what the actual point is.
        (The text on the book is not obvious)

  5. People can walk in to public area, covered head to toe with a white sheet, no Black people seem worried. Then the Columbine Four barge in with Dyson vacuum cleaners strapped to their backs.. Folks just twitter. A chase ensues, more twittering.

    New Yorkers are a different breed.

    1. Agreed, the white sheets were almost more “creepy in a KKK way” than “creepy in a ghostly way.” And barging into an enclosed public space carrying mock weapons, even if they’re parodying a well-known movie, is asking for trouble. What if an off-duty cop was there and freaked out?

      But the really shocking thing to me was how closely that one dude resembled Harold Ramis.

    2. Obviously they edit these videos to show as much appreciative/confused/amused “audience” reaction as they can, but my favorite parts are still the New Yorkers just sitting there reading.

      1. New Yorkers are completely unfazable sometimes. A few weeks ago Grace Potter played on a huge stage in Times Square. People were walking by without even looking at her or the stage.

        1. A few weeks ago Grace Potter played on a huge stage in Times Square…

          Who? No, seriously.

  6. Yeah I’m not sure why the ghosts didn’t have ‘NYC Library budget cuts’ written on them and then it’d make a lot more sense.

  7. *sigh* But, Winston hadn’t joined the team that early in the movie! Ernie Hudson was not in the library scene.

    (Young Egon is yummy, btw.)

    I wonder if library administration had tipped off the security guards, though. Because I’m astonished security or some off duty cops didn’t jump these guys due to terrorist fears.

  8. I still find the name of the troupe to be somewhat misleading. If they’re not improvising the script then why are they called Improv Everywhere? They don’t seem to be improv-ing anywhere.

    They’re still cool, though. It’s just semantics.

  9. “We as citizens are expected to live within our budgets (which can be severely crippling), why can’t a government entity be expected to do the same?”

    But they are NOT being asked to live within their budget, $30 million dollars is being cut from the budget. This is after two consecutive years of budget cuts and a surge in visitors because of the recession.

    So really it would be like asking a citizen to live within the same budget after his/her salary was reduced 3 years in a row AND after adding several more family members to the household.

    Your comment reveals a lack of understanding of the full story. I don’t disagree that safety and security might be more of a priority than education but your comment makes it sound like the NYPL don’t have a right to advocate for help on their own behalf.

    If you look at the proposed FY11 budget

    it looks like libraries are already a lower priority: facing a MUCH bigger budget reduction than the police force even though their budget is smaller to begin with.

    Also, I find your definition of “library” to be somewhat outdated. For many communities libraries are the primary source of computer and internet access for those who can’t afford it. I don’t know any place that offers free computer access that doesn’t expect you to buy something first.

  10. I think Neil Gaiman said it best: “Cuts to libraries during a recession are like cuts to hospitals during a plague.”

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