Reimagining the New York Public Library

The New York Times reported today about the NYPL system’s projected ideas for our beautiful Main branch. If you’ve never been to this library (the building on 42nd St & 5 Ave with the two sculpted lions guarding the main entrance) you’re missing out. It has reading rooms, microfiche, and interesting rotating exhibits. And it’s all free!

This sounds great because, currently, if you want to check out a book from the main library, you have to cross the street to their decrepit-hobo infested-book depository that they refer to as a “library.” In the new plan, this grim soul-mangling building will be closed and sold off. Patrons will get to bask in the glory of the lion library.

Among the proposed highlights:

  • Twice as much public space, including new areas for research, meetings, classes, working groups, and other forms of creative collaboration
  • Twice as much dedicated space for writers and scholars
  • Vastly increased public programming
  • Hundreds more public computers, plus other technology upgrades
  • Enhanced exhibition spaces

Even with the dramatically expanded public spaces, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building would still contain:

  • More than 2 million books, including both research and circulating volumes
  • Millions more rare collections materials, including 450,000 maps, 250,000 prints, almost 1 million photographs, and 40,000 linear feet of manuscripts
  • In addition, more than 6 million books and other materials will be made available on-site within 24 hours from a state-of-the-art preservation facility


  1. That sounds great. (I love the main library, though I haven’t been there in many years.) Do you know from where in the building they will draw the new public spaces?

    1. Never mind. 🙂 I found the answer. They’re moving out the old stacks under the reading room and moving in the circulating library books, computers, and making community space.

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