On Tuesday, June 23rd, at 7 PM, Scott Sherman will officially launch his new book Patience and Fortitude at Book Culture on 450 Columbus Avenue (between 81st and 82nd Street).
As a journalist for The Nation, Sherman’s in-depth coverage of the Central Library Plan provoked a firestorm of criticism against NYPL’s attempts to sell off popular libraries and gut the historic 42nd Street Library. His new book is a gripping account of the entire saga. Scott Sherman will sign copies of his book, and the event will include a conversation with Caleb Crain. We hope you can join us!
The three million books that were secretly moved from the 42nd Street Library stacks are still located 50 miles away at the Research Collections and Preservation Consortium (ReCAP) in Princeton, New Jersey. Library leaders have sought to justify the empty stacks as a cost-saving measure. They claim upgrading climate controls to the seven floors would cost $46 million.
But how much does it cost to build and maintain off-site storage at ReCAP in New Jersey? A lot, it seems.
According to Tax Form 990 filed by the New York Public Library, NYPL has paid $20,067,805 to ReCAP and $3,267,805 to Clancy Relocation & Logistics (Clancy Moving Systems, Inc.) over the last three years. A total of $23,335,395 has already been spent on off-site storage, a sum which does not include the cost of packing and transporting materials back and forth to 42nd Street so they can be used.
Here’s a breakdown of the $23,335,395 spent over the last few years:
Clancy Moving/Storage (removing books and additional storage)
Currently, NYPL stores nearly five million books in ReCAP. Although NYPL expects to complete the expansion of its underground book storage below Bryant Park in 2016, the expansion aims to provide additional storage for only 2.5 million items, meaning a substantial portion of the approximately 8.5 million volume research collection will remain in New Jersey. Upgrading the climate controls in the stacks would allow NYPL to keep 7 million volumes at the 42nd Street Library.
The per book retrieval cost for items stored in New Jersey is hard to find, but surely handling at four loading docks and two trips on the New Jersey Turnpike for each round trip costs much more than the efficient elevator ride from stacks to reading room. NYPL must disclose these costs so any new plans for the 42nd Street Library can take advantage of operating efficiencies embedded in the existing building.
In the same period, NYPL shelled out $9,478,658 to Fosters & Partners for plans now abandoned and $34.5 million to the Church Pension Group for administrative office space at 445 Fifth Avenue.
NYPL’s recent Midtown Campus Renovation survey revealed, the “vast majority of respondents list quiet spaces and the availability of materials” as their top priority. The costly reliance on an off-site storage model that is wasteful and inefficient must be re-examined. Updating the stacks now so more books can be stored in the 42nd Street Library will address the priorities of library patrons and pay dividends in the future.
Illustration courtesy of Simon Verity.
The Committee to Save the New York Public Library is excited to announce the forthcoming publication of Scott Sherman’s new book Patience and Fortitude: Power, Real Estate and the Fight to Save a Public Library, a definitive account of NYPL’s aborted plan to dismantle one of the world’s most cherished public libraries and the Herculean efforts of a broad coalition of writers, scholars, and library lovers to stop it.
In a series of penetrating articles for The Nation, Scott Sherman first began to unravel the details of the Central Library Plan in 2011. His investigative work played a pivotal role in generating wide-spread public opposition to the plan. Now Sherman tells the entire story in vivid detail based on his probing interviews and meticulous research.
Praising the book as “a major feat of reporting,” Vanity Fair joins a chorus of advanced accolades for the book:
“The battle over the New York Public Library was such an important fight to win, and Scott Sherman’s reporting was an essential part of that victory.” —Salman Rushdie
“It’s very hard to produce a specific, inarguable example of the power of the press—but here’s one. Scott Sherman’s pathbreaking 2011 article in The Nation about the New York Public Library’s plans to demolish much of its headquarters building and substantially change its purpose led directly to that misguided plan’s being abandoned three years later. Now Sherman lays out the entire story, from conception to cancellation, of the Central Library Plan. It is an absorbing narrative, and more; it also gets to the heart of an urgent broader issue, the danger our most precious institutions face in the age of disruption.” —Nicholas Lemann, author of The Big Test
“With cool acuity, Scott Sherman details the insidious threat to one of the world’s greatest cultural institutions, and the gritty resistance that saved it. Anyone who cares about the future of books should read Patience and Fortitude.” —Pankaj Mishra, author of From the Ruins of Empire
“Scott Sherman’s fast-paced story is a nuanced, disturbing account of what happens when the age of hedge funds, metrics and management consultants meets one of our country’s great institutions of learning. Patience and Fortitude is all the more fascinating because Sherman’s journalism played a significant role in preventing a cultural atrocity.”
—Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold’s Ghost
“One can read Scott Sherman’s engrossing book as a critique of the New York Public Library’s stumbles, or as a love letter to a priceless institution. This is a love letter, and one that assails those the author believes would have violated the library’s legacy. Even those who disagree with Sherman should tip their hats to him, for his passion and rigorous reporting, as the book reveals, has aided a great and priceless institution.” —Ken Auletta, author of Googled
“When civic vandals masquerading as visionaries attempted to gut the New York Public Library, Scott Sherman’s intrepid reporting in The Nation shut them down. Now he gives us the full story, a riveting activist adventure yarn written with the elegance of a cultural romantic and the gimlet eye of an investigative journalist. What I learned is that a civilization traduces its libraries—especially this library—at its peril.” —Rick Perlstein, author of The Invisible Bridge
“With reportorial doggedness, narrative elan, and an unfailing eye for the lancing detail, Scott Sherman masterfully tells the story, by turns enraging and heartening, of the plight of New York’s most storied institution in an uncertain age.” —Tom Vanderbilt, bestselling author of Traffic
“Scott Sherman’s Patience and Fortitude is a gripping, meticulously reported account of the plan to gut a world-famous research library—and the movement that sprung up to preserve it. Like Nicholson Baker’s Double Fold, another provocative story about a debacle in the stacks, this riveting book shows just how bloody the fight over our cultural treasures can get.” —Marilyn Johnson, author of This Book Is Overdue!
Patience and Fortitude will be available in bookstores on June 23rd. Pre-order your copy through Melville House’s website to get it now.