Library Proponent Expresses “Shock, Outrage” Over Bellevue Closure

Ilmar Vanderer, one of leading members of the group formed to save the Bellevue library, was “shocked and outraged” after hearing about the decision to close the library on Monday

“This is a perfect example of how appointed boards in Montclair, like the Library Board…over which the public has no direct control, are running wild, loose and reckless; irresponsibly shutting down public
institutions without benefit of public input. They are making arbitrary, capricious and unilateral
decisions…which fly in the face of what the community wants and needs.”

There was reportedly no hint that the Bellevue Library would be closed down at last night’s council meeting. In addition, at the Library Board’s meeting this morning, the board made the decision to close the
library first, and then opened up the floor to the public comments.

Vanderer said that the decision came as a complete surprise to himself and the group. In addition, he said that neither the Montclair Public Library Foundation nor the Library Board has been very cooperative
with the newly formed Bellevue Library group, which Vanderer said hinders any kind of fundraising efforts.

After hearing about the closing, Vanderer seemed more determined than defeated.

“Our efforts are only going to step up after this point.”

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  1. Vanderer said that the decision came as a complete surprise to himself and the group

    Shocked! There was no clue that this could possibly happen. No hint, whiff, intimation… Personally I am flabbergasted.

  2. Me, too. Flummoxed. Astounded, staggered, surprised, startled, stunned, thunderstruck, aghast, taken aback, dumbfounded, dumbstruck, stupefied, dazed.

  3. It’s always a pleasure to read the comments here, which are about as witty, amusing and stimulating as a post nasal drip… And I never cease to be amazed by people’s ignorance… The “sad truth” is that we have ONE library in two buildings, and NOT “two libraries.” In terms of what we “can’t afford,” I’d ask you… Where will it end? Maybe soon it’ll be determined (by a “specially appointed task force”) that we can no longer “afford” Montclair High School and the Municipal Building??? Maybe we should sell Edgemont Park to a developer who’ll build high-rise condos??? Of course, I don’t expect a reasonably intelligent answer from anyone here… that would be too much to hope for!

  4. I am so surprised I am now lying on the floor on my back with my arms and legs flailing in the air, having already knocked over two lamps and a music stand.

  5. Jerseygent, my suggestion for Mtc is to file for chapter 11 bk. Once in bankruptcy, I propose the town in conjunction with the court put together a proposal like Vallejo is doing to pay 5-20 cts on the dollar to unsecured creditors. This would allow the town to get out from under its debt load and be forced into more of a pay as you go town.

  6. No jerseygent, there WERE two libraries! And one budget that couldn’t pay for both unless we increase our tax levy. Which would you prefer? Its sad but bring on more cuts NOW! This is the truth and the day of reckoning Montclair and all of the boards and council need to take heed here and continue to slash the budget otherwise this towns going down.


  7. jerseygent, you are wrong to say that we have one library. Aside from our very large public library, there is a library in every school in. So there is more than enough access to library facilities in this town without the Bellevue branch. If they ever decided to close the main library, maybe that is something to get up in arms about. In the grand scheme of what sacrifices are going to have to be made to hit budget, this is a very minor one. All non essential luxuries must be cut out of the budget immediately. By the way, closing the branch is not a town council decision, its the decision of the library board. Instead of the reaction of shock and awe over what was inevitable, spend your time looking for more funds to keep it open, raise money, have fundraisers and if the support is there you will raise enough money to keep it open. I doubt the support is there, but have at it if you believe in the cause.

  8. From a practical standpoint, while there are libraries in all the public schools, you have to be a student there to have ready access. (And even students can’t always easily access the libraries in their own schools–at least that was my experience when my kids were at Mt. Hebron a few years ago. I hope that has changed.)

    Can you imagine the security nightmare of allowing citizens to roam the schools to get to the libraries, which of course only have collections tailored to the school population?

  9. At the elementary school level, we also no longer have actual librarians in many of the libraries. At Northeast, our children’s ability to take books out of the library is dependent upon having enough parent volunteers to assist.

  10. When skunks move in… oh wait. That was the heading of a different Baristanet post today.

    But this does stink. The nasal drippers (I like it Jersey Gent!) on Baristanet miss the point about what libraries do today (drippy noses must obscure vision). It’s not actually about the books, it’s about community centers. Yes, we have tons of school libraries (which the children can’t actually use and to which the public has no access) and MSU library (ever try to park to use it?!) and the BCCLS. Getting books isn’t the problem.

    What the Montclair library (both buildings) has done very well is to provide services that most towns farm out to community centers: activities, concerts, art exhibits, safe spaces for kids after school, job training, public access to computers, space for meetings. And the list goes on. Both branches are used actively by residents of all classes and races (to respond to those who call the Bellevue branch elitist).

    No, we can’t afford the maintenance required for both buildings without severely cutting programs and so it’s probably right to close Bellevue, at least until the economy gets better. But it’s a shame since it’s a historic landmark (Montclair’s first library, a Carnegie institution). Too bad tomato juice won’t work on this one.

  11. As much as I love libraries, I’m thrilled to see us finally talking about painful cuts. The long string of pet projects and fiscal mismanagement has my family on the verge of moving away from a place we love.

    At least the police have a nice place to park their personal cars!

  12. Hey ROC,

    The Capital Finance Committee has prepared a report with a financial analysis of the project.

    They don’t let me come to their meetings, for fear of my tainting their process, but they are very good people.

    I expect their report will be ready in a few days. I will support whatever is their recommendation.

    These are the guys who blew the whistle on the massive town debt, and who then “analyzed” the Senior Center.


  13. I’m sad to hear about the bellevue branch, but pleased to see at least a move in the right direction in terms of cutting what we can’t afford. Now, PLEASE tell me that the So. Park St plan is going to be scrapped as well!!! We simply cannot afford it and they don’t seem to get it!

    How do I know? I know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody who knows. Not a good way for the public to be informed about what is happening at a public institution. And the branch’s closing is the making of a lawsuit, should those who were working to raise funds for the branch are so inclined.

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