Friday, December 6th 6PM
Neighborhood Preservation Center, 232 East 11th Street New York, NY 10003.

42nd Street-StacksThe plan to remove millions of books from the New York Public Library’s century old building at 42nd Street and 5th Avenue has caused an outcry from writers and scholars, but less has been said about the book stacks that will be destroyed once the books are gone. This construction of steel and iron is the innovation at the core of the library’s ingenious organizational scheme. Its efficient beauty is as much a part of the building as the marble walls that enclose it. The design of the library involved Carrère & Hastings in a spirited, open competition. Its construction enmeshed the architects in a complex collaboration with a varied cast including a celebrated surgeon, an unsung engineer, and a New Jersey foundryman. This process stands in stark contrast to the secrecy with which NYPL has developed the radical alteration it now proposes.  Architect and author Charles Warren will discuss the history and construction of the stacks and the reasons they should remain at the center of one of New York’s most celebrated civic buildings.


Charles D. Warren is a member of the Committee to Save the New York Public Library and principal of the Manhattan firm, Charles Warren Architect. He is the co-author of the two-volume monograph, Carrère & Hastings Architects and author of other books and essays on architecture and town planning.

FREE but Space is limited!!
Please RSVP to [email protected]

Posted Under: lecture, Program & Events


  1. Converting a major research library into a teen center? True for all libraries in the northeast with rare exceptions of a few, very few college and university libraries. Comment of some students of “higher education” is that “their” libraries should not be used by anyone who hasn’t paid their top dollar tuition. And they’re deassessioning half of their collections in order to create teen meeting spaces, as is the New York Public Library? You let it be killed, well, then it’s gone forever. But I guess you’ve already lost that battle. Will the building be draped in black to mark its passing?

  2. The entire renovation plan for the NYPL, including destroying the stacks and selling off library real estate is a disaster. In this age of sequester, limited resources and educational opportunities, the libraries should be expanding, not contracting. Every “renovation” I have seen (including the Ottendorf) has been a disaster – depriving people of books, and support staff, destroying elegant space, and replacing it with limited electronic resources that are often broken. I do not argue the need for renovation and updates in many NYPL branches, but the master plan so far has been a huge step backwards, not forwards, in serving the needs of New Yorkers. And the 42nd Street Library, the “jewel in the crown” should stay exactly as it is – a beacon of what a really good, functioning, elegant, welcome repository of learning and discovery can be.

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