Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rethinking the Role of Public Libraries in New York City

Libraries Rethink Their Role in City. (The Wall Street Journal, 4/9/2012)

Excerpt:    All three of New York's public library systems are conducting or planning expansive renovations that reflect a shift in whom they serve, and how. 

And books, in many cases, are no longer the focal point.

An ambitious, $350,000,000 project to renovate all 62 Queens Library locations is two-thirds completed.

An example.

Leon Levy Information Commons

$300,000,000 Renovation of Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

Excerpt:  The Schwarzman building houses some of the library's most important research materials and collections. In recent decades, it hasn't served as a circulating library. Rather, it houses an exhibition hall, the famed Rose Main Reading Room, and some 5 million research volumes—many of them housed in closed stacks that occupy a space two blocks long, a quarter-block wide and eight stories high.

Starting as early as next year, the planned renovation would transform the stacks into a public area containing a new circulating library looking over Bryant Park with bookshelves, rooms for people to work together and, perhaps, a cafe. It would also convert empty rooms on the second floor into additional work space for writers and scholars—small offices, carrels and rooms with tables. All told, the renovation would double the building's public space. 

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