NY's Donnell Library: Spartan Beauty or a Plain Old Beast?

Does the exterior of a library matter...or only what's inside?

This article from NY Times Real Estate section asks rhetorically, "IS the 1955 Donnell Library on Manhattan's West 53rd Street a rare piece of midcentury Modernism? Or an empty suit of expressionless masonry?"

As the vacant building heads toward demolition in two years, a cadre of preservationists still hope to convince the Landmarks Preservation Commission that the limestone facade is not a nothing, but a something.

The Donnell was not supposed to be there at all. As John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s Art Deco complex was nearing completion in the early 1930s, he had the idea of extending Rockefeller Plaza, from 49th to 51st Streets, by a block, or better yet two blocks, to the north. That way, the Museum of Modern Art, a favorite Rockefeller cause, would preside over the plaza at 53rd Street, which he found a particularly attractive vision.

Now the Donnell is scheduled to be demolished to make way for a hotel with the library on the first floor.

Après Le Deluge...

Louisville's isn't the only public library recovering from flood conditions.

A sprinkler system test went bad Friday in the city of Fort Lauderdale's main Library, causing extensive damage to the downtown facility. Crews over the weekend used dehumidifiers and fans to clean the place up.

Unlike Louisville's mess though, library officials say only two comic books were damaged. Wow, lucky.

The building reopened today reports the Sun-Sentinal and the Miami Herald.

Louisville Main Library Makes Temporary Move

The flood-ravaged Main Library remained without power Friday as staff prepared to move offices to the nearby Heyburn Building.

Owners of the high-rise offices a half-block from the Main Library have agreed to provide temporary space for free on the 13th floor, Louisville Free Public Library Director Craig Buthod said.

The Main Library, located at Third and York streets, won't reopen until at least Labor Day, with full operation not likely to resume until around year's end. Story from the Courier-Journal.

Is This the Bookstore of Tomorrow?

Novelist Moriah Jovan has come up with a plan for a bookstore without books.

From Media Bistro's Galley Cat, Ron Hogan writes:

"You want a book you can hold in your hands," Jovan fantasizes. "You go to Quaint Bookstore and they do not have what you want in their meager stock. NO PROBLEM! You sit down at one of the book stations. You browse the computer catalog (probably Ingram or Baker & Taylor). You pick your book. You punch in your credit card number (tied to the store's point-of-sale system). The order goes directly to one of the Espresso (print-on-demand) machines behind you. You wait 10 or 15 minutes (by which time you've probably already ordered another 3 books), and out pops your book. You are GOOD TO GO."

Jovan's dream store also allows customers to test drive e-book readers, and maybe even keeps a few old-timey books around on a second floor, for those booksellers who aren't ready to let go completely. So what do you think? Is this where bookstores are headed? Is it where they should be headed?

Is a library without books next?

Update from Louisville

Skeletal Remains Removed from Library Construction Site

An archaeological survey being conducted at the site of a proposed addition to the Peoria (IL) Public Library uncovered the remains of nine individuals. The site, intended as space for a 12,000 square foot addition, was a public cemetery from 1842-1875.

Because of a law that requires living relatives to be identified and contacted so that they can authorize removal and reburial of remains, the library has had to alter their construction plans. More information is available at the Peoria Journal Star.

A Solar Powered Library in Taipei

Taiwan has begun construction on a solar-powered library in the
Taiwanese capital of Taipei and could benefit from new incentives designed to offer solar energy providers above-market prices for the energy they generate. Rooftop solar panels will provide electricity to the two-story building. Library users will also be able to enter the building and return and borrow books on a 24-hour basis using Easy Cards, a smartcard system used primarily to pay fares on Taipei's public transport system.

Harris Stowe Library Flooded

A water main break sent water rushing into the library at Harris Stowe State University in St. Louis, MO this afternoon.

Photos and Video from KSDK News.

According to a Harris Stowe representative, the break is near the intersection of Compton and Laclede. The campus was closed as a security precaution.

The entrance near the break was under approximately two feet of water at 5 p.m. Nearby streets were closed until the water recedes.

Additional coverage from KTVI.

Scientists Comb Peoria Library Site for Remains

Sure libraries are built on the foundations of human knowledge...but hopefully they're not built on top of human remains.

PEORIA, Ill - Archaeologists excavating the site of a planned new library say they found 10 burial sites from an old cemetery while searching for human remains that would have to be moved before construction can begin.

Midwest Archaeological Research Services started work at the site Tuesday. The planned new Peoria Public Library will be built on what was a city cemetery until the mid 1800s.

Hundreds of people were buried there, apparently more than the 321 bodies that local records indicate were moved from the cemetery when it closed.

Salt Lake City Library Neighbors...Architects Wants Culture, Not Police Nearby

If you had the choice, what type of facility would you like adjoining your library?

Award-winning architect Moshe Safdie, who designed Salt Lake City's showcase Main Library, has "great concern" with Mayor Ralph Becker's proposal for a cop shop on the downtown cultural block, calling the resulting arrangement a "fundamental transformation for the worse."

Safdie -- along with fellow library architects Steve Crane and Mark Johnson -- suggested that a "museum or performing-arts building" might work on Library Square, but warned that "a police station and emergency operations center is hardly a complementary use to the public life of the park."

The Library Board voted Tuesday to oppose placing a police headquarters a book's throw from the capital's cultural icon. The board argues the cop complex -- to be funded by a $125 million bond if voters approve it in November -- is "incompatible" and poses a philosophical threat to the freedom-of-speech nature of Library Square.


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