January 11, 2013

What to do if you are against NYPL’s Central Library Plan


As highlighted in the New York Times, the opposition to the New York Public Library’s Central Library Plan continues. A new letter (PDF) from scholars Joan Scott and Stanley Katz, who have long opposed the project, was circulated on January 7 to “more than 2,000 writers, scholars and others” who signed an April petition protesting changes at the 42nd Street library, including a massive transformation of the library’s historic book stacks into a circulating library. (Preliminary plans for the project by British architect Norman Foster were unveiled in December, and are the subject of a MobyLives dispatch from earlier this week.)

As the letter notes, “We continue to wonder, is the Foster plan really necessary? Can the library really afford it?”

For those who “have already expressed grave concern about the future of the NYPL,” the letter asks concerned scholars and library patrons “to continue to voice your opinions” and suggests the following:

(1) There are several meetings you may want to attend in the coming weeks at which Community Boards and the Landmark Commission will be asked to approve the Norman Foster plans to renovate the building.

*Community Board 5, Full board – Jan 17, 6pm
*Landmarks Preservation Commission – Jan 22 (time TBD, but during the day)

You can write Op Ed pieces and letters to the editor.

(2) You can contact your city council representative and the candidates formayor, asking them all to take a second look at the CLP.

(3) You can email library president, Tony Marx: [email protected]

This is a decision that, like the one that brought us Madison Square Garden in place of the classic Pennsylvania Station building on 34th Street, will be irreversible once it is carried out. We need to do as much as we can now to demand reconsideration of an unfortunate and unnecessary plan.


Kelly Burdick is the executive editor of Melville House.