MetroFocus: September 21, 2022

You’re probably spotting – and maybe stomping – spotted lanternflies everywhere these days.  These insects are not dangerous to humans or pets — they don’t bite or sting, and they aren’t venomous.  But they do pose a serious risk to agriculture:  New York vineyards and orchards stand to lose millions if the pest is not contained.  Julie Urban, associate professor at Penn State’s entomology department, and Alejandro Calixto, director of the New York State Integrated Pest Management program at Cornell University, explain what to do if you encounter spotted lanternflies, and what the state is doing to control the problem.

According to the American Library Association, the number of individual books challenged in 2021 was 1,597, the highest number since they’ve been tracking it.  In response to this increase in attempted censorship, the Brooklyn Public Library launched an initiative called “Books Unbanned“, which will make e-versions of books like “Stamped”, “The Bluest Eye”, and The Black Flamingo”, available to young readers nationwide.  President and CEO of the Brooklyn Public Library Linda E. Johnson joins us to discuss the issue of book banning today, in addition to sharing the library’s role in combating the negative impact of censorship and in making sure information is easily accessible to all.

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT, INSECT INVASION.

SPOTTED LANTERN FLIES SWARM THE TRISTATE THREATENING BUSINESSES AND LOCAL CROPS.

WHY STOMPING OUT THESE PESTS IS ONE WAY TO FIGHT BACK.

AND THE BROOKLYN PUBLIC LIBRARY COMBATS CENSORSHIP ACROSS THE COUNTRY BY GIVING YOUNG ADULTS ACCESS TO BANNED BOOK.

'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS,' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- ♪

> GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

THE SPOTTED LANTERN FLIES SEEM TO BE EVERYWHERE THESE CASE, AND THE STATE WANTS YOU TO STOMP THEM ON SIGHT.

THE INVASIVE SPECIES THAT'S BEEN THREADING WHY OUR REGION OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS HAS REACHED LEVELS OF INFESTATION, AND EXPERTS WARN THAT THEY NOT ONLY ARE THREATENING LOCAL AGRICULTURE BUT COULD CAUSE LOCAL BUSINESSES TO LOSE MILLIONS.

SO WHAT DO THESE DISTINCTIVELY LOOKING BUGS, WHY ARE THEY SO HARMFUL, AND CAN THE INFESTATION BE STOMPED OUT ONE BUG AT A TIME?

JOINING ME ARE TWO EXPERTS WHO KNOW ALL ABOUT THE SPOTTED LANTERN FLIES.

THEY ARE, THERE IS THE DIRECTOR OF THE NEW YORK STATE INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT PROGRAM AT CORNELL UNIVERSITY.

ALEJANDRO, WELCOME, AND THANK YOU FOR JOINING US ON 'METROFOCUS.'

THANK YOU.

ANY TIME.

THANK YOU FOR THE INVITATION.

ABSOLUTELY.

AND I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO WELCOME JULIE IRVIN, WHO IS A RESEARCHER AT PENN STATE.

PENNSYLVANIA IS CONSIDERED GROUND ZERO OF THE LANTERN FLY INVASION IN THE U.S.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

GREAT TO BE HERE, JENNA.

JULIE, I'M GOING TO START WITH YOU.

CONSIDERING THAT PENNSYLVANIA, AS I JUST MENTIONED, IS CONSIDERED GROUND ZERO, WHAT EXACTLY ARE THESE BUGS AND WHAT DIFFERENTIATES THEM FROM THE OTHER NUISANCES THAT WE DEAL WITH IN THE WARMER MONTHS?

THESE INSECTS ARE NOT FLIES AT ALL.

THAT'S JUST A COMMON NAME FOR THEM.

THEY'RE PLANT HOPPERS.

THE CLOSEST RELATIVES ARE CICADAS.

THEY HAVE THEIR MOUTH PARTS FUSED INTO A STRAW-LIKE BEAK AND INSERT THAT INTO PLANT TISSUE.

THEY SLURP UP THE PLANT SAP SPECIFICALLY.

AND SO THEY'RE DIFFERENT THAN SOMETHING LIKE A STINK BUG THAT WAS AN INVASIVE THAT HIT A FEW YEARS AGO, THAT IN TERMS OF IMPACTS ON GRAPES, IT DOESN'T PENETRATE THE FRUIT, IT CAN'T PENETRATE HUMAN SKIN, BUT WILL PENETRATE THE PLANT TISSUE AND FEED ON THAT.

FOR ANYONE WATCHING, IF YOU'RE ALL LIKE ME, I SHOULD HAVE GIVEN THE DISCLAIMER, IF YOU'RE NOT A BUG PERSON, I'M GOING TO GET SQUEAMISH HERE.

ALEJANDRO, I WANT TO TRY TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IS THE DAMAGE THAT THESE BUGS CAN DO TO PLANTS?

RIGHT.

LIKE JULIE SAID, I REALLY THINK IT'S AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FOR THE BUG, THIS INSECT DOESN'T BITE OR SING.

THEY'RE SAP FEEDING INSECTS, SO THEY'RE FEEDING ON THE LIQUIDS OF THE PLANT.

SO FOR A LARGE TREE, YOU GET INSECTS LIKE THIS ONE, THEY CAN DEBILITATE THE TREE, BUT FOR A VINE LIKE GRAPES, THEY DON'T HAVE THAT MUCH LIQUID.

SO IF YOU GET A HEAVY INFESTATION OF THESE INSECTS ON THESE PLANTS, THAT CAN DEVASTATE THE PLANT AND CAUSE SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE.

THE OTHER THING THAT JULY YEAH WAS MENTIONING, BECAUSE THEY'RE FEEDING ON THESE LIQUIDS, IT'S BASICALLY AN INSECT URINE THAT THEY FEED ON.

I KNOW YOU'RE GROSSING YOU OUT.

WHAT IT DOES, IT'S REALLY SWEET.

YOU CAN TASTE IT, IT TASTES LIKE SUGAR.

AND IT PROMOTES THE GROWTH OF A MOLD.

SO THAT MOLD ACTUALLY REDUCES THE AREA FOR THE LEAVES TO DO PHOTO SYNTHESIS.

SO IT REALLY DEBILITATES THE TREE AND THAT'S THE BIGGEST IMPACT.

NOT ALL SPECIES OF TREES THAT THIS INSECT IS FEEDING ON, BUT PARTICULARLY ON VINES LIKE GRAPES.

IN PENNSYLVANIA, THEY HAVE A LOT OF EXPERIENCE WITH THAT PROBLEM IN THE STATE.

ACTUALLY, THAT DOES LEAD ME TO MY OTHER QUESTION, BECAUSE WITH SO MANY, I GUESS, PEOPLE WHO WOULD BE MAYBE WONDERING HOW COULD BUSINESSES LOSE MILLIONS, WE KNOW THAT NEW YORK STATE IS BIG ON, UMM, THE WINE INDUSTRY IN THE FINGER LAKES AND ON LONG ISLAND, THE HUDSON VALLEY IS HUGE FOR APPLE ORCHARDS.

AND THEN THERE'S ALL OF THE MAPLE SAP PRODUCING TREES.

IS THERE A PARTICULAR CROP THAT IS MOST AT DANGER FOR AN INFESTATION OF THESE KIND OF BUGS?

SO THE GRAPES, THAT IS THE BIGGEST CONCERN IN THE STATE.

SO WE HAVE FOUR MAJOR GROWING AREAS.

WE HAVE LONG ISLAND, WE HAVE THE HUDSON VALLEY, WE HAVE THE FINGER LAKES, AND WE HAVE WEST NEW YORK.

SO A NUMBER OF ACRES, WE HAVE MORE GRAPES IN THE LAKE ERIE AREA.

AND THE OTHER REGIONS ARE MOSTLY FOR WINE PRODUCTION.

SO THAT'S WHERE WE HAVE -- THAT'S THE BIGGEST THREAT IN THE STATE.

THEY'RE PRESSING IN LONG ISLAND AND THE HUDSON VALLEY.

AND WE'RE JUST KEEPING AN EYE TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS IN THE FINGER LAKES AREA AND LAKE ERIE, AS WELL.

NOW, JULIE, I WANT TO ASK, BECAUSE IT SEEMS LIKE WE'RE TALKING ABOUT AN INVASION LIKE INSECTS, WE'RE TALKING MILLIONS UPON MILLIONS UPON MILLIONS, IS IT REASONABLE TO SAY THAT WE CAN CONTROL THIS BY STOMPING THEM OUT ONE AT A TIME?

I'M REALLY GLAD YOU ASKED THAT QUESTION.

BECAUSE THE STOMP CAMPAIGN IS JUST ONE PART -- IT'S LIKE THE PUBLIC FACING PART, WHAT THE PUBLIC CAN DO.

AND CERTAINLY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, YOU KNOW, HAVE A COMPLEX PLAN THAT THEY PUT IN PLACE WHEN IT WAS DETECTED IN 2014.

SO THERE'S TREATMENTS, IN INSECTICIDE AND HERBICIDE APPLICATIONS TRYING TO REMOVE ONE OF ITS FAVORITE TREES, THE TREE OF HEAVEN.

SO STOMP IS NOT THE ONLY WAY, BUT THE ISSUE WITH WHEN YOU MENTIONED THIS BEING A PROBLEM FOR BUSINESSES, THIS INSECT IS CARRIED BY HUMANS.

SO YOU'RE SEEING IT A LOT NOW, BUT IN SEPTEMBER WHEN IT GETS REALLY ACTIVE, AND THEY START TO MATE AND THEY START TO LAY EGGS, THAT'S WHEN THEY'LL FLY INTO AREAS, CARS, SUBWAY TRAINS AND WHAT NOT.

SO THE WHOLE IDEA OF STOMP IT, IF YOU DON'T KILL IT, YOU MIGHT CARRY IT.

SO THAT'S WHAT WE WANT TO MAKE SURE YOU'RE NOT TRANSPORTING IT INTO THESE VINEYARDS, INTO NEWER AREAS.

SO WHY IT'S POTENTIALLY A PROBLEM FOR, YOU KNOW, BUSINESSES, IS BECAUSE IT'S A NUISANCE PEST, AND PEOPLE NEED TO BE AWARE OF IT.

AGAIN, IT'S THAT STOMP IT DIMENSION IS ONLY ONE PART OF A LARGER MANAGEMENT PLAN.

ALL RIGHT.

WITH THAT IN MIND, THAT PART OF A LARGER PLAN, FOR THOSE OF US THAT MIGHT BE BUG GUT AVERSE, IF YOU WILL, ARE THERE BETTER, I DON'T KNOW IF WE WANT TO SAY MORE HUMANE, BUT ARE THERE LESS GROSS WAYS OF GETTING AWAY FROM THEM?

YES.

IF YOU WERE TRYING TO KILL THE ADULTS, ONE WAY THAT I'VE MENTIONED IS THAT YOU COULD CAPTURE IT IN A SODA BOTTLE OR YOUR DISPOSABLE COFFEE CUP AND PUT IT IN THE FREEZER AND THAT WILL KILL IT.

BUT THERE IS A VARIETY OF DIFFERENT METHODS, DIFFERENT TRAPS THAT ARE AVAILABLE.

PENN STATE EXTENSION HAS A MANAGEMENT GUIDE THAT BASICALLY IS ALMOST LIKE TAKES A DECISION FREE APPROACH TO WORK WITH PEOPLE TO SAY BASED ON THE LIFE STAGE OF THE INSECT, THESE ARE YOUR DIFFERENT MANAGEMENT PLANS THAT YOU COULD COME UP WITH TO MAYBE BUILD A CIRCLE TRAP.

THERE'S A LOT OF DIFFERENT OPTIONS THAT DON'T JUST RELY ON STOMPING OR EVEN IN CHEMICAL INSECT SIDE USE IF YOU'RE NOT COMFORT COMFORTABLE WITH THAT.

FOR THE SPREAD OF THESE BUGS, BECAUSE I KNOW PEOPLE IN THE CITY HAVE SEEN THEM AND IN PENNSYLVANIA OF COURSE, BUT THERE MIGHT BE OTHER REGIONS THAT PEOPLE HAVEN'T SEEN THESE BUGS.

AND SO IS IT SOMETHING THAT WE SHOULD EXPECT TO START SEEING THEM IN OTHER REGIONS OF THE STATE OR JUST THE GEOGRAPHIC AREA?

ACTUALLY, THIS, AGAIN, IS PART OF THIS IMPORTANCE OF THE PUBLIC AWARENESS ABOUT THIS INSECT.

THIS INSECT HAS SHOWN UP ON MULTIPLE OCCASIONS IN CALIFORNIA, AS WELL AS IN OREGON AND WASHINGTON.

AND SO IT JUST HAS NOT BEEN ABLE TO ESTABLISH THERE, OR IT'S NOT KNOWN TO HAVE ESTABLISHED YET.

SO THIS IS SOMETHING THAT A LOT OF STATES ARE IN THE LOOKOUT FOR.

SO YES, BECAUSE IT GETS TRANSPORTED WITH PEOPLE, AND IT GETS TRANSPORTED ON TRUCKS, ON TRAINS AND IN CARS, WE HAVE SEEN IT POP UP IN A NUMBER OF STATES AROUND THE COUNTRY.

BUT THIS IS WHY, YOU KNOW, WE WANT TO MAKE PEOPLE AWARE, IF YOU SEE IT, STOMP IT, REPORT IT.

ESPECIALLY IF YOU'RE IN AREAS WHERE YOU -- WHERE IT'S NOT KNOWN TO BE ESTABLISHED LIKE THE MIDWEST OR WESTERN STATES OF THE UNITED STATES.

BUT I FEEL LIKE THAT'S BEEN WORKING, BECAUSE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN DETECTING IT AND STOMPING IT BEFORE IT'S GOTTEN ESTABLISHED.

ALEJANDRO, WE WERE TALKING ABOUT, YOU KNOW, THE WAYS THAT INDIVIDUALS CAN HELP.

BUT IF YOU HAVE A VINEYARD, IF YOU HAVE AN APPLE ORCHARD, IS IT REALLY REALISTIC TO TRY TO STOMP OR TO COFFEE CUP CATCH THESE BUGS ONE AT A TIME?

WHAT ARE THE REMEDIATION METHODS ARE FARMERS ARE TRYING TO TAKESOME

THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION.

OF COURSE, WE'RE LEARNING FROM PENNSYLVANIA.

THEY'RE EXPERIENCED NOW FOR ALMOST TEN YEARS.

RIGHT NOW, IN VINEYARDS, IN SOME AREAS WE'RE FOCUSING ON PREVENTION.

SO YOU WANT TO MAKE SURE YOU DON'T BRING THAT PEST OR THAT PEST ISN'T ESTABLISHED IN THE VINEYARD OR ON THE EDGES OF THE VINEYARD.

SO TRAPPING IS REALLY IMPORTANT.

YOU HAVE TO MONITOR THOSE AREAS.

WE ARE EDUCATING THE GROWERS TO ADOPT THOSE AND INSPECT THOSE REGULARLY.

WHEN YOU HAVE REALLY LOW POPULATIONS, ONE OF THE SUGGESTIONS WE'VE BEEN MAKING AND IT'S GETTING SOME TRACTION FOR YOU IS YOU CAN VACUUM.

IF YOU HAVE A LOW INFESTATION, YOU CAN VACUUM THOSE.

IF THOSE NUMBERS DON'T GET OUT OF CONTROL, I THINK THEY HAVE TO USE SOME INSECTICIDES.

WE HAVE ON OUR WEBSITE REGISTERED PESTICIDES THAT CAN BE USED FOR THAT PEST.

SOME PEOPLE HAVE A PESTICIDE LICENSE FOR APPLYING THOSE.

WE'RE NOT TELLING THE PUBLIC TO GRAB CHEMICALS AND GO OUT AND START PRAYING.

THAT'S ONE OF THE BIGGEST CONCERNS THAT WE HAVE IN GENERAL IS THAT PARTICULARLY IN COMMUNITIES, WE START GETTING ALL THESE INSECTS, PEOPLE START FREAKING OUT AND THEY JUST GO AND PICK UP STUFF FROM STORES AND START SPRAYING A LOT OF CHEMICALS, PUTTING THEM AT RISK, AS WELL.

SO FOR GROWERS, WE'RE FOLLOWING THAT PROCESS, LIKE JULIE DESCRIBED.

WE'RE FOCUSING ON PREVENTION, AND THEN DETERMINING WHAT IS THE BEST ACTIONS TO TAKE, INCLUDING USING SOME INSECTICIDES.

RIGHT NOW, WE'RE JUST PUSHING REALLY HARD ON EDUCATING THE GROWERS, SHOW THEM HOW TO USE THOSE TRAPS.

AND COMMUNICATION WITH COUNTY OFFICES WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF AG MARKETS AND WITH OUR PROGRAM, AS WELL.

ALL RIGHT.

CAN I ADD SOMETHING TO THAT?

THE OTHER THING TO RECOGNIZE IS THAT EVEN IN AN INFESTED VINEYARD, LANTERN FLY, YOU WON'T FIND IT UNIFORMLY DISTRIBUTED.

IT'S GOING TO COME IN TYPICALLY WHERE IT'S A PROBLEM IN SEPTEMBER, OCTOBER WHEN THEY NEED TO FEED HEAVILY TO REPRODUCTIVELY MATURE.

SO THEY'RE GOING TO BE MORE FOCUSED ON -- THEY'RE GOING TO COME IN ALONG THE EDGES OF A VINEYARD.

MAYBE BY A WOOD LINE, BECAUSE THEY'RE COMING IN FROM THE ADJACENT WOOD LOT.

SO THIS IS WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED IN THE LAST TEN YEARS.

WE'RE TELLING GROWERS, THIS IS WHERE YOU SHOULD FOCUS YOUR MONITORING EFFORTS AND FOCUS YOUR TREATMENT EFFORTS.

AND WE'RE ALSO, YOU KNOW, AT PENN STATE AND CORNELL, A LOT OF US ARE TRYING TO BUILD A BETTER MOUSE TAP, TESTING THINGS LIKE EXCLUSION NETTING TO PUT UP PERHAPS PHYSICAL BARRIERS TO PREVENT THEM FROM COMING INTO THE VINEYARDS WHERE WE KNOW THEY'RE IN HIGHER NUMBERS IN THEETHE THEED A --

I HATE TO CUT YOU OFF, BUT WE HAVE RUN OUT OF TIME.

I WANT TO THANK BOTH OF MY GUESTS, JULIE IRVIN, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR AT PENN STATE.

AND ALEJANDRO, THE DIRECTOR OF NEW YORK STATE'S INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT AT CORNELL UNIVERSITY.

THANK YOU BOTH SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

AND TELLING US WHAT TO DO WHEN WE INEVITABLY SEE THESE LANTERN FLIES.

> WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M RAFAEL PI ROMAN.

ACROSS THE COUNTRY, MORE AND MORE STATES AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS ARE BANNING BOOKS FROM SCHOOLS, LIBRARIES AND UNIVERSITIES.

IN FACT, LAST YEAR, MORE THAN 1500 BOOKS WERE CHALLENGED TO BE REMOVED FROM LIBRARIES.

THAT'S THE HIGHEST NUMBER SINCE THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION BEGAN KEEPING TRACK OF SUCH CHALLENGES.

IN RESPONSE THE BROOKLYN PUBLIC LIBRARY HAS LAUNCHED BOOKS UNBANNED.

WHAT IS THIS INITIATIVE AND WHAT DOES IT HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH?

JOINING US NOW AND TO TALK ABOUT THE LIBRARY'S 125th ANNIVERSARY AND THIS YEAR-LONG CELEBRATION IS THE PRESIDENT AND CEO OF THE BROOKLYN PUBLIC LIBRARY, LINDA E. JOHNSON.

WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

LINDA, FIRST OF ALL, TELL US WHAT THE BOOKS UNBANNED INITIATIVE IS, AND HOW IT CAME TO BE?

SURE.

SO THE INITIATIVE IS AN EFFORT TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO WHAT WE CALL YOUNG ADULTS.

13 TO 21-YEAR-OLDS WHO LIVE ACROSS THE COUNTRY, BUT IN MANY CASES LIVE IN AREAS WHERE BOOKS THAT THEY WOULD LIKE ACCESS TO, BOOKS THEY WOULD LIKE TO READ, HAVE BEEN PULLED FROM THE SHELVES OF THEIR LIBRARIES AND THEIR SCHOOLS.

SO IN AN EFFORT TO GET THEM THE MATERIAL THAT THEY WOULD LIKE, AND HONESTLY, MOST OF THE BOOKS BANNED EITHER RELATE TO CRITICAL RAISE THEORY OR LBGTQ ISSUES, SOME HOLOCAUST ISSUES.

BUT THESE ARE BOOKS THAT ARE REALLY IMPORTANT TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF YOUNG ADULTS, AND THEY FEEL -- WE KNOW THIS BECAUSE THEY HAVE SENT US EMAILS TO THIS EFFECT.

THEY FEEL ISOLATED AND WOULD LIKE TO BE ABLE TO READ ABOUT THESE TOPICS.

SO IF THEY SEND US AN EMAIL AND LET US KNOW THAT THEY WOULD LIKE A DIGITAL CARD AND ACCESS TO OUR COLLECTIONS IN BROOKLYN, WE PROVIDE THAT CARD FOR FREE, FOR A YEAR.

WE'LL TALK ABOUT ALL THE THINGS THAT YOU'RE ACTUALLY DOING WITH THIS INITIATIVE, BEYOND THAT.

BUT THERE ARE THREE LIBRARY SYSTEMS IN NEW YORK CITY.

SOME PEOPLE DON'T KNOW THAT.

THERE'S YOURS, THE BROOKLYN, THE QUEENSBORO LIBRARY SYSTEM.

AND THEN THERE'S THE NEW YORK CITY LIBRARY SYSTEM, WHICH IS MANHATTAN, STATEN ISLAND, AND THE BRONX.

NOW, YOU'RE ALL INDEPENDENT, VERY INDEPENDENT OF EACH OTHER.

BUT YOU ALL HAVE SIMILAR, SOMEWHAT INITIATIVES LIKE THIS, YOURS IS MUCH THE -- THE MORE ELABORATE, AND AMBITIOUS.

DID YOU COORDINATE THIS?

NO, THIS WAS SOMETHING THAT WE DEVELOPED ON OUR OWN.

WE DO OFTEN PARTNER WITH THE OTHER TWO SYSTEMS.

WE ALWAYS NEGOTIATE FOR OUR BUDGETS TOGETHER.

THIS WAS AN INITIATIVE THAT WAS HOMEGROWN, AND THERE'S ANOTHER COMPONENT TO IT, WHICH IS WE HAVE SET UP A TEEN COUNSEL HERE IN BROOKLYN.

WE CALL IT OUR INTELLECTUAL COUNCIL.

AND THEY ARE REACHING OUT TO TEENS WHO HAVE ASKED FOR THE CARD AND THEY HAVE BOOK DISCUSSIONS, AND THERE'S A LOT OF TALK ABOUT HOW THEY CAN ADD S -- ADVOCATE FOR THEMSELVES.

YOU TALK ABOUT THE TYPE OF BOOKS THAT ARE BEING BANNED ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

CAN YOU GIVE US SOME EXAMPLES OF SPECIFIC BOOKS THAT ARE BEING HIT?

SURE.

SO THE ONES THAT -- THE TITLES THAT HAVE COME UPMOST FREQUENTLY ACROSS THE COUNTRY, 'THE 1619 PROJECT' BY NICOLE ANNA JONES, WHO IS A BOARD MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC LIBRARY.

'THE BLUEST EYE' BY TONY MORRISON.

'LONG BOY' AND 'ON EARTH, WE'RE BRIEFLY GORGEOUS,' AND 'JULIETTE TAKES A BREATH.'

AND TELL US, AGAIN, WHAT THE GENERAL THEMES OF THESE BOOKS ARE.

IT'S EITHER CRITICAL RACE THEORY OR GENDER ISSUES, LBGTQ ISSUES.

YEAH.

SO WE -- YOU TALKED ABOUT A COUPLE OF THINGS.

ELABORATE ON ALL THE STEPS YOU ARE TAKING.

YOU HAVE FIVE OR SIX STEPS THAT ARE TRULY AMBITIOUS.

SO THE FIRST THING IS, WE SENT OUT A PRESS RELEASE COUNTRY WIDE AND SAID IF YOU FALL INTO THIS CATEGORY OF 13 TO 21 AND WOULD LIKE ACCESS TO OUR COLLECTION, SEND US AN EMAIL.

AND IT TOOK OFF.

SO NOW IT STARTED IN APRIL AND WE HAVE ISSUED OVER 4,000 CARDS.

SO THE DEMAND WAS MORE THAN WE ANTICIPATED, AND THAT'S BOTH HEARTENING AND DISPIRTING AT THE SAME TIME.

BUT THE NEED IS SO GREAT BUT ALSO HEARTENING BECAUSE WE'RIBLE TO HELP.

IT'S ALSO A CALL TO ACTION.

WE'RE HOPING THAT OTHER LIBRARY SYSTEMS ACROSS THE COUNTRY WILL JOIN US IN THIS EFFORT, DO SOMETHING SIMILAR OR SOMETHING MORE MODEST.

WE NEED, YOU KNOW, WE NEED TO FIGHT THIS REAL CHALLENGE TO OUR DEMOCRACY.

YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO READ WHAT YOU WANT TO READ, REGARDLESS OF WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK.

AND SO WE ARE DEDICATED, FIERCELY DEDICATED TO THIS INITIATIVE, BECAUSE IT'S AT THE CORE OF WHAT WE STAND FOR.

WE DO THE WORK WE DO BECAUSE WE BELIEVE LIBRARIES ARE THE MOST DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS IN OUR SOCIETY.

SO THE FIRST EFFORT WAS TO GET PEOPLE TO RESPOND.

WE THEN ARE ISSUING CARDS, AND ALREADY WE HAVE SEEN 16,000 ITEMS CHECKED OUT OF OUR COLLECTION BY THESE PEOPLE WHO HAVE THEIR CARDS NOW.

OVER 4,000.

NOT ONLY HAVE THE CARDS BEEN ISSUED BUT THEY'RE BEING ACTIVELY USED.

YOU'RE ISSUING THESE CARDS FOR FREE.

GETTING A LIBRARY CARD IS ABOUT $50, RIGHT?

WELL, YES.

IF YOU LIVE IN BROOKLYN, EVERYTHING WE DO IS FREE.

BUT THESE ARE FOR OUT OF STATE PEOPLE.

MANY SYSTEMS CHARGE FOR THESE CARDS.

BUT FOR THIS PARTICULAR COHORT, THESE CARDS ARE FREE OF CHARGE BECAUSE WE FEEL THAT WE'RE FILLING A NEED.

AND WE'RE DOING IT ALL WITH PRIVATE MONEY, JUST TO BE CLEAR, WE'RE NOT USING MONEY THAT WOULD OTHERWISE BE GOING TO SERVE THE PEOPLE.

DONATIONS FOR THIS ARE WELCOME.

THEY ARE WELCOME.

[ LAUGHTER ] PEOPLE ARE WELCOME TO CONTACT US ABOUT DONATIONS.

YOU ALSO HAVE AN INTERESTING STEP OR ACTION, SHARED VIDEOS, ESSAY STORIES AND OPINIONS, YOU'RE ASKING KIDS TO DO THAT?

YES, THIS IS WORKING THROUGH THE TEEN COUNCIL, BUT WE'RE ASKING FOR PEOPLE TO PARTICIPATE IN BOOK CLUBS AND TO WRITE TO US, AND WE ARE ACTUALLY PROVIDING INFORMATION AND COUNCIL ON HOW PEOPLE CAN ADD SLOW KATE FOR-- ADVOCATE FOR TH AND BRING THIS IDEA OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH INTO THE FOREFRONT OF THEIR COUNTRIES.

I READ ABOUT -- AS I WAS READING ABOUT YOUR INITIATIVE, I WAS REMINDED, AND I'M SURE YOU'RE FAMILIAR WITH IT, WITH A 'NEW YORK TIMES' EDITORIAL BY THE EDITORIAL BOARD THAT CAME OUT BACK IN MARCH.

YOU KNOW, WHICH LAMENTS THE VERY ISSUE THAT YOU'RE RESPONDING TO, YOU KNOW, THE SPATE OF ACTIONS BY ELECTED OFFICIALS ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO BAN THE BOOKS THAT YOU DESCRIBED THEREBY STIFLING INTELLECTUAL FREEDOM AND FREEDOM ITSELF.

AND THEY ALSO LAMENTED THE FACT THAT SO MANY LIBERALS AND PROGRESSIVES WHO USED TO BE AT THE FOREFRONT FOR THE FIGHT OF THE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION HAVE NOW TOO OFTEN CONFLATED HATE SPEECH WITH SPEECH SIMPLY THEY DISAGREE WITH, SPEECH THAT OFFENDS OR CHALLENGES THEM.

THIS HAS RESULTED, ACCORDING TO THE EDITORIAL, TO THE CANCEL CULTURE, WHICH HAS RESULTED IN PEOPLE BEING AFRAID TO SPEAK OUT, AND THEREFORE IT TOO HAVING THE EFFECT OF STIFLING FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FREEDOM OF THOUGHT.

DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT ASSESSMENT BY 'THE NEW YORK TIMES,' AND WHAT CAN LIBRARIES DO?

IF IT'S HAPPENING, IT'S A REAL PROBLEM.

WHAT CAN LIBRARIES DO TO ADDRESS THIS WIDER THREAT?

YOU KNOW, I THINK THAT WHAT WE DO, AND HAVE DONE FOR 125 YEARS, IS PROVIDE ACCESS TO THE WORLD'S KNOWLEDGE.

IT SOUNDS LOFTY AND ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE, BUT IT IS REALLY TRUE.

THAT IS OUR JOB.

AND THAT IS WHAT WE DO EVERY DAY.

AND WE ENCOURAGE EVERYBODY WITH THE INCLINATION TO WALK THROUGH OUR DOORS, EVEN OUR ELECTRONIC DOORS, TO COME AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF WHAT WE HAVE HERE.

AND NOT JUST THE MATERIAL, BUT ALSO THE STAFF WHO IS HERE TO GUIDE AND CURATE.

SO WE ARE OPEN TO ALL THOUGHT.

SOMETIMES WE NOT AGREE WITH IT, BUT WE FEEL STRONGLY THAT WE WILL DEFEND BOOKS THAT WE AGREE WITH, AS FIERCELY AS THE ONES WE DON'T AGREE WITH.

AND IT'S IMPORTANT THAT YOU MAKE THAT POINT.

SO THANK YOU.

SO LET'S TURN NOW TO THE 125th ANNIVERSARY OF THE BROOKLYN PUBLIC LIBRARY.

AS YOU KNOW, THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO SAY THAT THE BROOKLYN PUBLIC LIBRARY, PARTICULARLY ITS MAIN BRANCH, WHICH IS AWESOME, IS ONE OF THE CITY'S HIDDEN GEMS.

I KNOW THAT YOU AGREE THAT IT'S A GEM.

I WONDER IF YOU THINK IT'S HIDDEN, THAT NEW YORKS OR TOO MANY NEW YORKERS STILL DON'T KNOW ABOUT THIS INSTITUTION.

YES, IT'S CERTAINLY A GEM.

AND THANK YOU FOR CHARACTERIZING IT THAT WAY.

OVER THE COURSE OF OUR 125-YEAR HISTORY, WE HAVE COME IN AND OUT OF HIDING SEVERAL TIMES.

I'VE NOW BEEN HERE 11 YEARS, WHICH IS DIFFICULT TO BELIEVE, AND WHEN I GOT HERE, THERE WAS A LOT OF TALK ABOUT A FORCED MARCH TO ON ON OBSOLESCENCE, AND THAT T THEED A VENT OF TECHNOLOGY THAT WAS DRIVING THAT ARGUMENT HAS ACTUALLY CREATED A NEED FOR LIBRARIES THAT SURPASSES WHAT'S BEEN GOING ON FOR YEARS.

IT MAY BE THAT THE CIRCULATION OF HARD COPY MATERIAL HAS NOT CONTINUED TO INCREASE AT THE RATE THAT IT WAS, YOU KNOW, 20, 30 YEARS AGO.

BUT ATTENDANCE IS UP.

WE HAVE ALMOST A MILLION CARD HOLDERS IN A BOROUGH OF 2.6 MILLION PEOPLE.

SO THAT TELLS YOU SOMETHING ABOUT THE FACT THAT WE ARE HERE IN PUBLIC, WAVING THE FLAG, AND ANYTHING BUT HIDDEN THESE DAYS.

LIMNDA, WHAT IS THE ONE OR TO THINGS THAT YOU THINK NEW YORKERS DON'T KNOW ABOUT THIS LIBRARY THAT MAYBE THEY SHOULD?

ONE THING IS WE OFFER ALL KINDS OF THINGS.

YOU CAN BORROW FROM US HARD COPY BOOKS IN ENGLISH.

YOU CAN ALSO BORROW BOOKS, DIGITAL, ON WHATEVER PLATFORM YOU'RE MOST COMFORTABLE, AUDIO, DIGITAL, WHATEVER LANGUAGE YOU'RE MOST COMFORTABLE.

WE OFFER SERVICES IN OVER 30 LANGUAGES.

IN ADDITION TO THE TROVE OF BOOKS THAT WE HAVE TO OFFER, WE OFFER ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE.

WE OFFER CLASSES ON CITIZENSHIP FOR PEOPLE STUDYING TO TAKE THE EXAM.

YOU KNOW, WE ARE VERY MUCH IN THE FOREFRONT OF CIVIC ENGAGEMENT, GETTING PEOPLE TO REGISTER TO VOTE, AND IT DGOES N AND GONE.

IT IS EXTRAORDINARY.

SO FINALLY, THE CELEBRATION FOR THE 125th ANNIVERSARY IS A YEAR LONG.

YOU HAVE HAD A NUMBER OF EVENTS.

TELL US, AS WE CLOSE, WHAT IS AN EVENT OR A COUPLE OF EVENTS THAT ARE COMING UP THAT YOU THINK MAYBE OUR VIEWERS MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING IN OR TAKING ADVANTAGE OF?

WELL, THE THING THAT'S COMING UP NEXT IS ACTUALLY ON SATURDAY, AND I THINK MY STAFF HAS BEEN AS EXCITED ABOUT THIS INITIATIVE AS ANY OTHER.

AND THAT IS WE HAVE TURNED OUR BOOKMOBILES INTO CAKE MOBILES THIS WEEKEND.

AND WE'RE OFFERING BIRTHDAY CAKE TO EVERYBODY WITH A LIBRARY CARD.

IT'S AN INCENTIVE TO SIGN UP FOR A CARD.

SO IF YOU'RE NOT ONE IN A MALL PEOPLE THAT ALREADY HAVE ONE, REGISTER ONLINE.

GET YOUR CARD AND GET A PIECE OF CAKE.

OKAY.

I DON'T KNOW WHERE WE'RE GOING THE AIR THIS.

WE'RE SHOOTING ON THURSDAY, THE 28th, I BELIEVE.

SO IT MAY BE AFTER THIS CAKE BONANZA.

BUT IN ANY EVENT, PEOPLE SHOULD VISIT THE LIBRARY AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT.

IT'S GREAT.

I KNOW IT FOR A FACT.

LINDA, THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

A PLEASURE TO TALK TO YOU.

THANK YOU.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- ♪

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