NY Public Library Plans $1B Overhaul

The New York Public Library has unveiled a billion-dollar, five-year plan to renovate its flagship facility on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, develop new hub libraries elsewhere in the city, expand its digital presence and make other changes to the library system.Part of the plan is being funded by a recent $100 million donation by private-equity mogul Stephen Schwarzman, whose Blackstone Group, among many other deals, engineered the largest modern real estate transaction on record with the purchase of Equity Office Properties Trust a little more than a year ago.Schwarzman’s donation is the largest single donation in the library’s history, and library officials are calling it the largest unrestricted gift by an individual to any cultural organization in New York City. In acknowledgment of the donation, the Beaux-Arts Fifth Avenuebuilding–famed for its marble lions and currently known as the Humanities and Social Sciences Library–will be renamed the Stephen Schwarzman Building.The property development and redevelopment portions of the plan include: $300 million for the renovation of the landmark Fifth Avenue library, which was the library’s main building for decades after its completion in 1911; $80 million to build two new hub libraries, one in northern Manhattan and the other on Staten Island; $130 million to refurbishbranch libraries throughout the system; $40 million for the buildout of a new Library Services Center in Long Island City; and $20 million for the buildout of a new Donnell Library,  which currently houses the system’s largest circulating collection of materials in languages other than English, as well as films, videotapes, and materials for childrenand teenagers.The development of the hub libraries is part of the system’s reorganization in which hubs will service smaller branches in their areas. The plan was piloted in the Bronx, where the new Bronx Library Center is a hub to 11 branches in the northern part of the borough. According the library officials, the hub has seen an increase of 12 percent in attendance and 13 percent in circulation since its hours were expanded last September. In January, the pilot was extended to Staten Island, where the historic St. George Library Center is being used as a temporary hub until a new hub library is built elsewhere in the borough. Eventually, there will be six hub libraries in the system, three in the Bronx, two in Manhattan, and one in Staten Island.”We’re at a preliminary stage now so can’t say at this point whether the new hub libraries will be built on newly acquired or existing sites,” a spokesman for the library system told CPN this afternoon. “But we expect they will be in the range of 40,000 to 60,000 square feet.”