Take action to stop the Central Library Plan and save the 42nd Street Library! Please join us for a week of leafleting at the 42nd Street Library culminating in a rally on Wednesday, May 8th, during the meeting of the New York Public Library Trustees at the 42nd Street Library.
We will leaflet from Noon to 1PM on Wednesday (May 1), Thursday (May 2), Friday (May 3), Saturday (May 4), Monday (May 6) and Tuesday (May 7). Come join us in front of the 42nd Street Library on 5th Avenue at any of these times! We will have plenty of flyers, and also have signs to hold.
Then, come to the rally on Wednesday, May 8th, at 3:30 PM sharp in front of the 42nd Street Library facing 5th Avenue. The rally will start promptly, so please be on time! We want to have a strong presence as the Trustees enter the building for their meeting. If you can’t make it at 3:30, join us after work at 5pm to greet the Trustees on their way out.
The Central Library Plan (CLP), at enormous cost to New York City and its taxpayers, would irreparably damage the 42nd Street Research Library – one of the world’s great reference libraries and a historic landmark. The CLP would demolish the library’s historic book stacks, install a circulating library in their stead, and displace 1.5 million books to central New Jersey. The new circulating library would be a reduced-size replacement for the Mid-Manhattan Library (at 40th and 5th Avenue) and SIBL (Science, Industry and Business Library, at 34th and Madison), which would both be sold off.
For more information about the Central Library Plan and its negative impacts on both the 42nd Street Library and the circulating libraries it would replace, see “The Truth About the Central Library Plan”
It has become increasingly apparent that the CLP is part of a larger effort by New York City’s public library systems to shrink their capacity and sell off valuable real estate, which started with the controversial sale in 2008 of the beloved Donnell Library to real estate developers. The leafleting and rally are being cosponsored by our friends at Citizens Defending Libraries.
We have received multiple reports that the historic book stacks in the 42nd Street Research Library have now been emptied. Removing the books is a prelude to the proposed demolition of the stacks later this year or early in 2014 as part of the Central Library Plan. The removal process started many months ago.
Construction has not yet started on the additional book storage space that has been promised under Bryant Park. Furthermore, ReCAP, the book storage facility in central New Jersey where NYPL’s offsite books are supposed to be stored, was essentially full as of December 2012, and the new storage modules at ReCAP which are intended to hold the additional books from 42nd Street won’t be finished until mid-summer.
Several sources have reported that books from the 42nd Street stacks are being temporarily warehoused at a Bronx storage facility [Update: apparently the facility being used for temporary storage is actually in Westchester].
Please join the Committee to Save the New York Public Library, Citizens Defending Libraries, Comptroller John Liu, and other elected officials for a rally on the steps of New York’s City Hall to protest policies of New York City’s public library systems that place the interests of real estate developers above the interests of library users. Entrance to the steps is on the east side of Broadway, near Murray Street.
UPDATE: Here’s a photo from City Hall!
The Committee is calling for a halt to the Central Library Plan (CLP), which would cost $350 million ($150 million of which would come from New York City taxpayers) and irreparably damage the 42nd Street Research Library – one of the world’s great reference libraries and a city, state, and national historic landmark. The CLP would demolish the 42nd Street Library’s historic book stacks, install a circulating library in their stead, and displace 1.5 million books to central New Jersey. The new circulating library would replace the Mid-Manhattan Library and the Science, Industry, and Business Library, which would both be sold off. Last spring, the Committee circulated a letter opposing the CLP that drew nearly 2,000 signatures, among them those of Mario Vargas Llosa, Salman Rushdie, Tom Stoppard, Lorin Stein, Jonathan Galassi, Jonathan Lethem, Art Spiegelman and Francine Prose.
There has been widespread skepticism among library patrons, preservationists and architecture critics about the wisdom, financial feasibility, and aesthetic quality of the plan. Underlying these concerns is the extraordinarily closed process through which the Library administration has made its decisions. Despite the fact that the 42nd Street building is owned by the City and is one of our most iconic structures, the plan was formulated with minimal public notification and no public input. The $150 million which the City has earmarked towards the project was awarded without any oversight by the City Council and with no public hearings. If alternatives have been seriously considered they have never been disclosed, and no cost-benefit analysis or detailed budget has ever been presented to the public.
The Committee to Save the NYPL asks that the CLP be halted until:
1. An independent agency makes public a detailed cost analysis of the CLP, including potential cost overruns—which have been a regular feature of projects of this kind at other cultural institutions. Even as the library insists it will stay within budget, the chairman of its board admits that “Our own budget estimates are reasonable, but even they cannot be refined with any precision at this stage.”
2. The NYPL seriously considers the suggestions of critics Ada Louise Huxtable and Michael Kimmelman that the 42nd Street building be left intact and attention directed instead to a renovation and expansion of the Mid-Manhattan building. Kimmelman states in a scathing NY Times review that “the Mid-Manhattan site…has the potential to be redeveloped as a 20-story building. The library could also sell some 100,000 square feet of unused space…. A new Mid-Manhattan branch should cost a fraction of gutting the stacks and could produce much better architecture.”
3. The NYPL administration provides more than improvised figures about the impact of spending $150 million of city money on the 42nd Street building, money that could otherwise be used for the many branch libraries in desperate need of support and for replenishing Research Library staff positions (1/3 of the staff has been laid off since 2008).
4. The New York State Historic Preservation Office conducts a full assessment of the plan’s impact on the iconic 42nd Street building.
For more information, see “The Truth About the Central Library Plan”
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