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New Jersey State Library System. Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey Circus. An Ill-conceived Alliance. February 2011.

Sometimes, a good thing is in wrong hands. Who would think that the New Jersey State Library (NJSL) would become business partners with Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey circus? It is antithetic to have any library system, widely perceived as a font of wisdom, push for a show that is emblematic of animal abuse, exploitation, and simply an insult to our intelligence. Who, out there, is truly entertained by animals balancing on balls, jumping through hoops on fire, or a quadruped wearing a skirt, walking on two feet??? I don't want to know you.

Anthony Botti, Head of Friends of Animals United NJ, (FAUN) sounded the alarm and we now have to convince the officials of NJSL that supporting Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey Circus is counterintuitive and outright wrong.

Here's the pitch:

Now, it is only fair to note that the NJSL partnered with the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority (NJSEA), not with Ringling directly. The NJSEA, in turn, offered free family four-packs of tickets to the circus for the " lucky" winners. It is possible that, in the beginning, the NJ State Library had sports events in mind, and didn't realize that the circus could come into the picture.

Nevertheless, the NJSL is now fully aware that they are irreparably linked to the circus.

A library system bent on rewarding citizens with a good reading habit would do better by eschewing any show involving animal performers. Sports is okay. Why not recommend the local theatre company, a Broadway show, or even Cirque du Soleil? They are immensely better than something even China felt right to ban (performing animals in zoos).

The New Jersey State Library, if it truly appreciated those who read like " Library Champions, " wouldn't send these presumably gifted page-turners to the Saddest Show on Earth. Someone is not careful out there. Perhaps, the NJSL, itself, should do some reading and discover what other people already know about the circuses.

We would do well by sending a polite email to both Norma E. Blake, State Librarian, at and Sheri Shafer, CFO, Business Office at .

Even a short letter will send the right message, that people object to the marriage between the NJ State Library system and Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey Circus, in any form, be it unwittingly or not.

Sample Letter for Copy and Pasting :

Email Subject: NJ State Library & Ringling Bros Barnum and Baily Circus

Norma Blake
State Librarian
Sheri Shafer
CFO, Business Office
New Jersey State Library
185 W. State St.
Trenton, NJ 08625

Dear Ms. Blake and Ms. Shafer:

I have become aware that the NJSL and the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority (NJSEA) have entered into a promotional deal wherein certain winners in the "Read Like a
Library Champion" program will receive free tickets, not only to IZOD sports events,
but also to the Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey Circus. Here is the link:

I implore you to not support or to be associated in anyway with Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey Circus. Please contact the NJSEA and request that the NJ State Library and the "Read Like a Library Champion" program not be associated with the circus at all. Here are two links that pertain to the hideous cruelty that animal performers in zoos and circuses are subjected to.

I thank you for your time and attention, and wishing you a great Spring 2011.




Catherine said…
I realize libraries are hurting for funds, but my heart sank when I read this piece since I am such a library enthusiast. Thank you for spreading the word about this. I have sent an e-mail voicing my objections for those who cannot voice their own.
Chessbuff said…
Thanks, Catherine. I received a reply from the state librarian which was more on the curt side than the sympatheitc side. She said that this will be the state library's last year in the "Read Like a Library Champion" program, and that the parents had the option of not accepting the free tickets to the circus. There was no acknowledgement that partnering with the circus was, indeed, counterintuitive to the ideals of a state library system.

Nevertheless, it is good that the NJSL heard from us, making them aware that such partnerships have not gone unnoticed and that people find it objectionable.
cambridgeratmom said…
Thanks for posting this information. I just sent my email and am sure others will, too. Even if their reply is curt, they will have received emails from people everywhere.

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
Chessbuff said…
Yes, I agree, Cambridgeratmom. We just have to keep chipping away at the problem. Sustained efforts do give birth to change.

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