Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Why I Don't Contribute to the NY Public Library

Dear Ms. Butler,
I don’t know if I am writing to you, or a publicist for NYPL, or an underpaid staffer, but in any case I will tell you why, although I am most grateful to the library for its wonderful collection and the research I was able to do there, formerly donated substantially, and thanked the library in the preface to the resulting book (The Origins of Business, Money, and Market, 2011), I no longer give money. The reason is quite simple.

Serving as the titular head of the library is a great honor, extended only to those who have been financially successful—as they must be to raise the huge sums necessary for the library and as anyone can see by looking at who those people have been. So I fully expected that the wealthy people who received this honor, and who then sought contributions from the rest of us, would be taking a modest salary—not trivial, because that would be demeaning, but not extremely large: they don’t actually need it, and their plea for funds from the public is usually based on the library’s serious want of same. So when I discovered that the salary being paid to the head of the library was well over a million dollars a year, I realized that the thousand or so dollars I could contribute was actually being used to pay this person far more money than I thought made any sense. Accordingly, I have not contributed to the library for a number of years, and have no intention of doing so until I learn that, as for the great Mr. Gregorian in former days, the leader’s compensation has returned to saner levels.
Keith Roberts

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