Posts by: Committee

The Committee to Save the New York Public Library has just released a new broadside listing 5 steps to save the 42nd Street Library and strengthen NYC’s library systems.

Download pdf: A Call for Action!

Click on images  to enlarge:




1. The $150 million which former Mayor Bloomberg earmarked for the destructive 42nd Street Library “renovation” should be redirected to other,urgently-needed library uses.

2. Don’t starve the local libraries to pay for the 42nd Street “renovation.”

3. Stop the sale of the Mid-Manhattan Library.

4. Insist on full transparency regarding decisions by the New York Public LIbrary board of trustees.

5. Keep the 42nd Street Library a world-class research facility by saving all of the research stacks and updating the existing climate-control systems.

State Senator Brad Hoylman, whose district includes the 42nd Street Library and the Mid-Manhattan Library, has announced his opposition to the Central Library Plan:

I am deeply concerned about several of the proposed changes, notably the proposal to displace the historic stacks, dramatically reducing the number of readily available research volumes and increasing the wait times for materials.  As a result, the Central Library’s function as one of the world’s premier research facilities will be significantly diminished.

I am also staunchly opposed to the the proposal to sell of the Mid-Manhattan Library and Science,  Industry and Business Library branches and consolidate their contents within the Central Library in a space less than one-third their current combined size.

Thank you Senator Hoylman for your powerful and articulate statesment! Read the full statement here.

A great report from the “Translationista” blog of a tour of the now-empty stacks at the 42nd Street Library which the NYPL recently gave for a delegation from PEN:

Yesterday I was invited to tour the stacks at the 42nd Street Library as part of a delegation from the PEN American Center, which the NYPL is hoping to win over to its cause. The purpose of the tour was to convince us that the demolition of the stacks is necessary and a contribution to service and scholarship. What I saw convinced me of the opposite…

Read the entire article here.

When even the New York Post calls NYPL’s misleading appeal for the Central Library Plan a “sneaky solicitation,” you know their PR campaign has backfired!

Read the full article: Bookworms: LIbrary Mislead Us in Central-Library Plan Petition

May8Rally4smallThe new issue of the Nation magazine reports that Mayor de Blasio faces a choice: he can follow-through on his campaign pledge to halt the Central Library Plan, but time is running short.

De Blasio was right to speak out: the CLP devotes immense resources to the central library, in the heart of Manhattan, while ignoring the needs of the NYPL’s nearly 100 branch libraries, many of which are situated in poor, outlying zones of the city. Those branch libraries need at least $500 million in structural renovations.

How should the new mayor proceed? He should redirect the $150 million in capital funds the Bloomberg administration allocated to the CLP.

Read the full article here.  For more of the Nation’s outstanding coverage of the Central Library Plan, see The Hidden History of New York’s Central Library Plan and Upheaval at the New York Public Library.

The NYPL has just sent out their annual email asking that people sign a letter to the Mayor urging him to support public libraries.  Buried in the middle of this letter is a highly-misleading pledge of support for the Central Library Plan – a plan that would demolish the research stacks in the 42nd Street Library, send 1.5 million books to New Jersey, and sell the Mid-Manhattan Library.   In short, the NYPL is asking you to tell Mayor de Blasio: please wreck the 42nd Street Research Library.

Please do NOT sign this appeal!  And please tell your friends via email, Facebook, and tweets that this appeal is deceptive and should not be signed.

The appeal misleadingly asks that de Blasio support “A renovated central branch library that provides longer hours, more public space, and more resources for children, teachers, job seekers, and more.”

“Central Branch Library” is an intentionally camouflaged reference to the 42nd Street Library. The letter provides no indication of the destructive consequences of this so-called “renovation” – the irreparable  harm to the 42nd Street Research Library, the loss of the Mid-Manhattan as a free-standing library and its shrinkage into a much smaller and ill-suited space never designed to hold a circulating library.

Because “renovated central branch library” is never defined, people reading the appeal will not realize it refers to the 42nd Street Library and to the Central Library Plan. NYPL simply made the name up; “central branch library” appears nowhere else in the entire NYPL website.

It’s a striking confirmation of the Plan’s unpopularity that the NYPL has to make use of such deceptive language in an attempt to create an appearance of support.

Mayor de Blasio has the power to stop the plan, and is on record demanding that the library find an alternative:

We intend to help him follow through on this commitment and truly strengthen our public library systems!


New York State Assemblymember Micah Kellner has issued a powerful statement about the NYPL’s misleading tactics:

I am profoundly disturbed that the leadership of the New York Public Library (NYPL) is using misleading and deceptive language in an attempt to trick New Yorkers into supporting its controversial Central Library Plan for the main 42nd Street Branch…

This is truly an example of Orwellian double-speak. The NYPL’s leadership must harbor serious doubts about the merits and practicality of its Central Library plan to employ such a willfully deceptive appeal.

Read Kellner’s full statement here.


We’ve received word that it is now possible to remove your name if you mistakenly signed the deceptive appeal that NYPL is circulating in support of the Central Library Plan.  To remove your name, please contact:
Johannes Neuer
Acting Director of Engagement
The New York Public Library
445 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016


January 2014

In an article slamming the expansion plans of the Museum of Modern Art (another real-estate crazed NYC cultural institution), NY Times’ architecture critic Michael Kimmelman also calls out NYPL on the Donnell Library fiasco.

The Donnell Library appears to be a model for how the NYPL plans to “transform” libraries (including the Mid-Manhattan), selling off the real-estate and shrinking them into much smaller spaces designed for socializing rather than learning.

The much-loved Donnell was an oasis of light and air, and featured an exceptional children’s library along with outstanding foreign language and audio-visual collections.   It was sold to developers for a pittance and demolished in 2009.  As Kimmelman writes,


Across West 53rd Street from MoMA, the Donnell Library Center, a long-shuttered branch of the New York Public Library, is scheduled to reopen late next year at the same spot but in the bowels of a new luxury hotel, at a third of its former size, with wide bleacher seating and steps as the main feature.

“More like a cultural space, which is about gathering people, giving people the opportunity to encounter each other,” is how the library’s architect, Enrique Norten, describes the plan.

It’s all the same flimflam: flexible spaces to accommodate to-be-named programming, the logic of real estate developers hiding behind the magical thinking of those who claim cultural foresight. It almost never works.

Read the complete article here.


A big thank you to Publishers Weekly for picking the NYPL’s controversial Central Library Plan and library advocates’ efforts to save the research stacks from demolition as one of the “Top 10 library stories of 2013” (number 7, to be exact)!

From the article:

“The NYPL was depicted in the court of public opinion as out of touch with its users, driven by the bottom line, besot with trendiness, and having lost its way,” Kenney noted. “Almost overnight, the NYPL went from a benign, if not beloved, institution to an evil book burner in the minds of some key thinkers.”

In late 2013, NYPL officials announced they were delaying the release of a revised plan until 2014. Indeed, the eyes of the city will be upon the NYPL in the coming months—and one critical set of eyes belongs to a new Mayor, Bill de Blasio.

As public advocate, de Blasio had expressed deep concerns over the renovation, and had pushed the Bloomberg administration for “a detailed financial audit and review” of the project. “Before NYPL goes about demolishing stacks and consolidating libraries,” de Blasio stated in July, 2013, “they need to ensure that the people they serve aren’t being shortchanged and being disregarded for the bottom line.”

DC 37, New York City’s largest public employee union, has come out strongly against the selling off of branch libraries as part of NYPL’s renovation plans. “We can solve the funding crisis without selling our cultural heritage,” says Local 1482 President Eileen Muller, quoted in an article published on the DC 37 website  The article goes on to note:

Critics say the sell-offs are unnecessary and irresponsible and amount to handing over public gems to real estate developers without guaranteeing the public any improvement in library services.

They point to the 2007 botched sale of the Donnell branch in Manhattan as an example of what can go awry when public services are needlessly subjected to market forces.

The article also quotes Ada Louise Huxtable’s evaluation of the Central Library Plan: if the NYPL carries out the plan, the Library “would undertake its own destruction.”

The article is well worth reading in full:
Communities and DC 37 Mobilize to Stop Library Sell-Offs

With our allies we prevailed in court on Tuesday. The temporary restraining order which prevents any demolition at the 42nd Street Library was extended!

Thanks to all of you who helped fill Judge Wooten’s courtroom for the NYPL hearings on Tuesday. Proceedings took most of the day. Arguments by Michael Hiller of Weiss and Hiller representing plaintives Edmund Morris et al. were heard first and after a break, Laura Barbieri from Advocates for Justice representing David Levering Lewis et al. was heard. Both attorneys did a fine job against a phalanx of lawyers from NYPL, New York City and State.

To the surprise of everyone, including the judge, NYPL’s lawyer produced a Letter of Resolution from the NY State Historic Preservation Office, evidence they did not disclose to the opposing council. Evidently NYPL and NYSHPO have been working on this behind closed doors for months. The failure of New York State to stand up for the preservation of this masterpiece of architecture and engineering is disappointing.

The good result of the hearing is that NYPL agreed not to proceed with any demolition or construction at the 42nd Street Library and agreed not to sell either the Mid Manhattan Library or SIBL at least until January 28th, 2014. This agreement is legally binding. This insures that the new city administration will have the opportunity to re-examine this project and reassess the expenditure of $151 Million of taxpayer’s money.

Now we need to renew efforts to contact city officials to make sure they keep election promises to scrutinize the NYPL plan and fully explore more constructive alternatives that will preserve the 42nd Street stacks and keep the Mid-Manhattan as a stand-alone library.

More coverage of the court hearing can be found here:
In Blow to Central Library Plan, NYPL Agrees to Halt Planned Destruction of 42nd St. Library Research Stacks