From the New York Times: Responding to objections raised by scholars, writers, artists and others, the New York Public Library has revised its plan to remove most of the books from its flagship Fifth Avenue research center to make room for a circulating library. Library officials said that an $8 million donation would help pay for enough new storage space to keep 3.3 million of its 4.5 volumes.
The change, approved by the library board on Wednesday, marks a significant shift in the Central Library Plan, a $300 million proposal to turn the historic building into the world’s largest combined research and circulating library.
“I’m very pleased both by the outcome but also by the process,” said Anthony T. Grafton, a Princeton University history professor who serves on the plan’s advisory panel. “It seems to me we saw a great public institution and its leader actually listening to the response of its public.”
The gift, from Abby S. Milstein, a lawyer and trustee, and her husband, Howard P. Milstein, a banker, will cover the cost of building 30,000 square feet of storage space to keep 1.5 million books that would otherwise have been sent to a warehouse in New Jersey. Scholars and others have protested plans to send the books away, arguing that research would be inhibited by the inevitable resulting delays in retrieving books, and that the changes would diminish the library’s role as a leading reference center.
“This is a great outcome,” Anthony W. Marx, the library’s president, said in an interview. “We’re investing in good old-fashioned books for research, but we’re also working to ensure digital access and provide more education programs in branches.”