As the city budgeting process begins, the fate of the proposed New York Public Library renovationand the $150 million in capital funds that the Bloomberg administration pledged to itremains uncertain. An early opponent of the overhaul, Mayor de Blasio called for a cost analysis of British architect Norman Foster's estimated $300 million renovation plan last summer. In waiting for its results, due this spring, de Blasio has sequestered the capital funds, the Times reports.
The proposed renovation entails a series of actions which will, essentially, turn the research-oriented library into a lending library. "Please do not call this a 'renovation,' as [the library has] rebranded it," a NYPL preservation crusader told Atlantic Cities, "It is not. They intend to close two branch libraries in the process, and squeeze the public into a space 1/3 of these." The proposed renovation entails moving the mid-Manhattan circulating stacks from their present location into a space occupied by research stacks across Fifth Avenue, and consolidating the mid-Manhattan Science, Industry, and Business Library in part into the Carrère and Hastings landmarked main branch. Foster's design, revised to integrate some stacks, would convert the former circulating area into a public space overlooking Bryant Park with bookshelves, seating areas, and desks. The Library pinpoints the facilities' lack of humidity and temperature control as problematic for the stacks as-is. With the monetarily troubled public library expecting to generate savings of $7.5 million a year from the combining of the libraries, the long-term fiscal benefit of the consolidation is inarguable, unlike the dismantling of the stacks.
Until de Blasio's cost analysis of the renovation is complete, the fate of this historic building hangs in limbo. "This review should evaluate the complete financial risks associated with the current plan," de Blasio told reporters from the steps of the library in July, "and seriously consider alternative ways to use city funds to ensure the preservation of the New York Public Library's valuable collection stored at the Central Library and preserve the mid-Manhattan branch as a functioning library."
· Library Renovation Plan Awaits Word From de Blasio [NYT]
· Meet New York's Newly Famous Public Library Crusader [AC]
· All NYPL coverage [Curbed]