News & Events

Photos from June 3rd Vigil

After a slightly delayed start due to a truly torrential downpour, Monday’s vigil at the NYPL’s Spring fundraising gala went well! The rain stopped shortly after 6 PM, the skies started to clear, and we sent a powerful message to the New York Public Library administration.

Reverend Billy and his choir injected a wonderful jolt of energy into the proceedings, and concluded with a newly composed song (with the refrain, taken from Ada  Louise Huxtable’s scathing review of the Central Library Plan, “You don’t update a masterpiece”).  As the music ended, Rev. Billy led the crowd up the library steps, where several people spoke passionately about the need to save the 42nd Street Library and not sell off branch libraries.

Meanwhile, others were leafletting the donors as they arrived.  The NYPL’s Ken Weine (Vice President of Communications & Marketing) and an assistant came out to the plaza to escort donors into the building and to attempt to explain what was happening.  Many donors accepted leaflets, and our concerns were well conveyed!

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Vigil at 42nd Street Library Monday, June 3rd

Please join us for a vigil on Monday, June 3rd, during the New York Public Library’s Spring fundraising gala at the 42nd Street Library.  We want to thank the NYPL’s donors for supporting the library, but also alert them to the NYPL’s wasteful plans to gut the 42nd Street Library and sell off the Mid-Manhattan.

The vigil will start at 6:00 PM in front of the 5th Avenue entrance to the 42nd Street building (at 5th Avenue and 41st Street) and end at 7:30. We will have plenty of signs and flyers. This event is cosponsored by Citizens Defending Libraries, and will feature an appearance by Reverend Billy.

The vigil will take  place rain or shine!  Please bring an umbrella. In case of bad weather there is a covered area protected from the rain that we can make use of.

The Central Library Plan, 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 also calls for the sale of the Mid-Manhattan Library at 40th and Fifth Avenue, the most heavily used library in the entire country.

The NYPL plans to demolish the 42nd Street Library’s historic seven-story 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 (at 34th and Madison), despite being less than one-third the size of the two existing libraries.

This plan was created through a closed process with no public input, and has been condemned by leading architecture critics such as Ada Louise Huxtable in the Wall Street Journal and Michael Kimmelman in the New York Times.

It has become increasingly apparent that this plan 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.

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”.

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Panel Discussion on the Future of NYC Libraries May 29

Our allies at the Historic Districts Council have organized a panel discussion on the future of the New York City library systems and their plans to downsize libraries and sell off assets:

Knowledge of the Future: The Changing Face of New York City’s Public Library Systems

Wednesday, May 29, 2013 at 6pm
Steelcase, 4 Columbus Circle #2, Manhattan
Free. To rsvp, contact hdc@hdc.org. Space is limited.

Despite recent record increases in library attendance usage citywide, the three New York City library systems have been systematically starved for financial resources and forced to make hard choices in their plans for the future.  From the proposed sales of the Pacific Branch Library and Cadman Plaza Library in Brooklyn, to the radical intervention proposed for the 42nd Street Research Library and the recently revealed plans for a smaller library to replace the demolished Donnell Library in Midtown Manhattan, the library system has been radically transforming the use and form of its public property.

Join a panel of experts as they discuss a number of plans currently in the works for New York City libraries, and what it might bode for the future of America’s largest public system. Invited speakers include: Dr. Jeffrey Kroessler, Librarian and Urban Historian, John Jay College, Scott Sherman, contributing writer and editor, The Nation, and David Giles, Research Director at the Center for an Urban Future.

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NYPL Responds to “The Truth About the Central Library Plan” – Read Our Reply!

The Committee to Save the New York Public Library has just issued “The NYPL Strikes Out,” a point-by-point refutation of claims made by the New York Public Library administration’s document: “Setting the Record Straight.” The NYPL distributed this document to its Trustees at the May 8th Trustees meeting, and also handed it out to participants in our rally outside the meeting.

To see both the Library’s document and our reply, please go to:
The NYPL’S Response and Our Reply.

The Library’s document is a response to The Truth About the Central Library Plan, our analysis of the NYPL’s plan to gut the 42nd Street Library and sell the Mid-Manhattan Library and Science, Industry and Business Library. Unfortunately, the NYPL’s response provides no new information and simply relies on the same unsubstantiated generalizations and half-truths that the Library has previously used to defend the plan. It fails even to address any of the facts we cite in our study.

The fact that the NYPL is unable  to provide hard  numbers to support the Central Library Plan provides yet more evidence that we need an independent analysis of both the plan and its less destructive (and more efficient) alternatives.  Please see The NYPL’S Response and Our Reply for all the details!

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Wall Street Journal Attacks “Arid, Corporate Aesthetic” of 42nd Street Library Plan

Today’s Wall Street Journal contains a detailed article reviewing attempts to change the design and operation of central libraries in various cities throughout the US.  The article, “The Library’s Future is Not an Open Book,” by Julie Iovine, concludes with this analysis of  the NYPL’s Central Library Plan:

But it’s the larger question that’s most troubling. Changing New York’s central library to make it more relevant for today’s users makes sense only if “relevance” weren’t such a moving target. Mr. Foster’s arid, corporate aesthetic is no match for the rich, human-scaled classical vocabulary of Carrère and Hastings. The Mid-Manhattan Library across the street would make a much better candidate to be the shell available for continuous makeovers as times and tastes change. Carrère and Hastings’s structure still serves the function for which it was created—to hold books—and inspires awe through the ideals expressed in its architecture and the intellectual resources housed within. It already offers an incomparable “experience,” with plenty of “Inspiration for all New Yorkers” to spare.

NYPL, are you listening?  As Michael Kimmelman writes in the conclusion to his May 12 New York Times article about the Museum of Modern Art reconsidering its plan to demolish the adjoining American Folk Art Museum building:

Clearly, the climate is changing and New Yorkers can make themselves heard when it comes to shaping the public realm.

Institutions, lavished with tax breaks, responsible to the people, would do well to listen. (New York Public Library, that includes you.)

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Rally a Success!

Wednesday’s rally was a great success, and sent a strong message to the New York Public Library Trustees, “Don’t gut the 42nd Street Library!”  Turnout was excellent, despite torrential rain in the morning and intermittent rain which continued in the afternoon.  In addition to the main rally in front of the library, we also had groups of people with signs stationed at each of the side entrances, making sure that all of the Trustees saw our message both when they entered for their meeting and when they left.

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Rally at the 42nd Street Library Wednesday, May 8th, Rain or Shine!

Join us for a rally on Wednesday, May 8th, at 3:30 PM sharp in front of the 42nd Street Library facing 5th Avenue, during the quarterly meeting of the Library Trustees.  The rally will start promptly: 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.  This rally is cosponsored by Citizens Defending Libraries.

UPDATE:
The rally will take place rain or shine; bring umbrellas!  In case of bad weather there is also a large covered area protected from the rain that we can make use of.

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”

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Leafleting at 42nd St Library; Rally May 8

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.

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The 42nd Street Library Book Stacks Have Been Emptied!

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].

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Rally at City Hall Thursday, April 18th, Noon

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!

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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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