Work is now underway on New York Public Library's storage space below Bryant Park, after plans to move it to New Jersey were heavily criticized. The New York Times revealed details on the 110,000-square-foot storage facility, which is spread out over two floors that are 17 feet below Bryant Park. The whole thing was originally constructed in the 1980s, but only one of the two floors was used for storage; the other had yet to be built out completely until renovation work began there this March. Now, both floors will house NYPL's research collection, which will be ferreted to people aboveground through a motorized system that will use mine-cart-like vehicles to retrieve the books. The system is expected to be in place by the end of next spring.
The research collection is unlike the lending one in that research books cannot be checked out of the library. Of the two underground floors, the bottom one will only store books, while the top floor will be divided into books, microfilm, and special collections. Librarians stationed underground will receive requests via computer, which they will then input into the system, which then sends a motorized cart through the collection to retrieve the materials—a process that takes about 40 minutes.
For this new project, the library has abandoned organizing books by the Dewey Decimal System (gasp!) and moved to organizing them by height; they will be retrieved by scanning a bar code. The original 105-year-old research stack sits beneath the Rose Main Reading Room, and stretches seven floors below ground. A plan to replace those steel stacks with modern technology had an estimated cost of $47 million compared to the storage plan below Bryant Park, which is costing the library $23 million. The project is part of an ongoing $300 million renovation plan for the library being developed by the Dutch firm Mecanoo.
· Beneath New York Public Library, Shelving Its Past for High-Tech Research Stacks [NY Times}
· New York Public Library Will Be Revamped by Dutch Firm [Curbed]
· New York Public Library Has a New Renovation Plan [Curbed]
· NYPL Archives [Curbed]