Committee to Save the New York Public Library: The Central Library Plan
The Truth About the Central Library Plan
The Central Library Plan (CLP) would close and sell two major public libraries – the
Mid-Manhattan branch and the Science, Industry, and Business Library (SIBL) – and
consolidate their functions within the 42nd Street Research Library building. To
accomplish this, the Research Library’s seven-story book stacks would be demolished, at
least 1.5 million books displaced to remote storage in New Jersey, and a new circulating
library built in their place.
The plan is highly controversial:
• It will be hugely expensive, costing a minimum of $300 million (probably much
more), of which $150 million will come from New York City taxpayers. There is
great concern that the Library’s focus on a highly-complex construction project will
absorb desperately-needed funds which might otherwise pay for renovations of
branch libraries, and replenish slashed curatorial and acquisitions budgets.
• It will radically reduce the space available for the Mid-Manhattan and SIBL.
• It will threaten the 42nd Street Library’s status as one of the world’s great
• It will threaten the architectural integrity of the landmarked 42nd Street building.
• It does not take into consideration more efficient and less destructive alternatives,
such as combining SIBL and the Mid-Manhattan into a rehabilitated and expanded
building on the Mid-Manhattan site.
Underlying our concern is the extraordinarily closed process through which the Library
administration has made its decisions. Despite the fact that the 42nd Street building is
owned by the City and is one of our most iconic structures – a designated New York City
Landmark,1 and a State and National Historic Landmark inside and out – the plan was
formulated with minimal public notification and no public input. The $150 million which
the City has earmarked towards the project was awarded without any oversight by the
City Council and with no public hearings. If alternatives have been considered they have
never been disclosed, and no cost-benefit analysis or detailed budget has ever been
presented to the public. Though the Library’s leaders continue to call their plans
preliminary, they are pressing to start demolition in the summer of 2013, just months
Given the circumstances, the Committee to Save the New York Public Library believes
the Central Library Plan must not proceed until there has been an independent study of its
costs, the costs of feasible alternatives, and the impacts which the plan will have on the
branch libraries, the Research Library, and on the iconic 42nd Street building itself.