May 19, 2022

Roundup: New York Public Ends Plan to Renovate 42nd Street Building (Central Library Plan)

UPDATED on May 8th, 2014 with Addition Material and Formal Statement from NYPL.

From The NY Times:

In a striking about-face, the New York Public Library has abandoned its plan to turn part of its research flagship on 42nd Street into a circulating library and instead will renovate the Mid-Manhattan library on Fifth Avenue, several library trustees said.


This shift is something of a defeat for the library, which had long defended its plan against a roster of prominent scholars and authors who said the introduction of the circulating library in the research building would diminish its capacities as a center for scholarship.


Reaction among board members to the change in course was mixed. “Given all the complexities, I do think this is a reasonable and good solution,” said Robert B. Silvers, the editor of The New York Review of Books, who is a trustee.

From the NY Daily News:

When the facts change the only right thing to do as a public-serving institution is to take a look with fresh eyes and see if there is a way to improve the plans and to stay on budget.

[Anthony] Marx [NYPL President and CEO] said they are now “actively engaged in a discussion with our board and the city on possible alternatives that help us best meet our original goals.”

From The Guardian:

The shift is also a victory – if perhaps an accidental one – for Bill de Blasio, the city’s new mayor, who campaigned against the renovations during last year’s municipal election. In his previous role as New York’s public advocate, de Blasio joined demonstrators on the steps of the NYPL to oppose the Central Library Plan. But he had not spoken out on the library plans since taking office on 1 January.

The library is set to receive $150m in public funds when the mayor announces his first budget on Thursday. The cost of the Central Library Plan had been initially estimated at $300m, but that number had increased significantly in recent months as the library reconsidered the costs of renovation.

I had no idea this was coming, but I never believed it wasn’t possible,” said Caleb Crain, author of the novel Necessary Errors and one of New York’s most consistent critics of the Central Library Plan. In 2012, Crain had advocated for a revised plan that would have retained the central branch as a research library and upgraded the sicklier Mid-Manhattan branch into a major lending institution. The NYPL, at the time, called that idea impossible. It now plans to do almost precisely what Crain proposed.

From Gothamist:

Computer programmer Matthew Zadrozny, whose protest against the NYPL’s renovation plans gained noticed after Humans of New York featured him, told us, “I applaud the NYPL for courageously stepping in the right direction and look forward to inventing the future of the library with them. This is a good day for New York.”

May 8, 2014 UPDATE

See Also: Central Library Plan Web Site

Selection of Previous Posts About the Central Library Plan

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.