Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New York Public Library Defends Plan to Renovate

Very interesting article in the Monday, April 16, 2012 p. C1, C5 New York Times on the proposed renovation of the Fifth Avenue and 42nd St NYPL. The comment section is also well worth reading where public library users-- scholars, writers, academics,and users of other branches-- write in about the importance of the research mission of the public library. Some excerpts from the article and comments:

New York Public Library Defends Plan to Renovate By ROBIN POGREBIN

"The New York Public Library is engaged in a public-relations blitz to address criticism from scholars and writers who object to the library's plan to reimagine its Fifth Avenue flagship building at an estimated cost of $300 million.
In the past few weeks the library's president, Anthony W. Marx, has written articles for The Huffington Post and Inside Higher Ed, appeared on radio and television and assembled an advisory panel that includes people skeptical of the plan. Several scholars have published criticisms of the project, known as the Central Library Plan. On Friday others began circulating a letter of protest among academics; more than 200 have signed so far, including Mario Vargas Llosa, the Nobel Prize-winning writer, and Lorin Stein, the editor of the Paris Review. "

excerpt: "The project would convert the main library, now strictly a reference operation, into a hybrid that would also contain a circulating library, many computer terminals and possibly a cafe. The Mid-Manhattan branch and the Science, Industry and Business Library would be sold and their operations folded into the main building. To accommodate the new
services, up to half of the three million volumes in the stacks under the main reading room would be moved into storage in New Jersey. Critics say that the money would be better spent refurbishing deteriorating branch libraries, and that the changes will diminish the library's role as a leading reference center, essentially turning it into a glorified Starbucks."

Comments make the case for unique resources of low demand and having subject specialists who can help researchers, writers, scholars--even if they are connected to an academic institution with a fine academic library-- that there is the need for a great public library to fulfill a research mission.

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