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.)