(New York, NY) March 11, 2008 – At a press conference in Astor Hall attended by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, and many other elected officials, New York Public Library Chairman Catherine C. Marron and President Paul LeClerc today announced a transformative plan that will reach far beyond the historic marble building – the "people's palace" – that has been at the center of New York City since 1911.
The plan, which will take at least five years to realize, represents the greatest change to the New York Public Library system since its founding more than 100 years ago; it will have an impact on every one of the millions of users – children, teens, and adults from all walks of life – who come in person to the Library's 89 locations, as well as the countless citizens of New York State and beyond who access the Library's astonishing holdings through the Internet and who call upon the unparalleled expertise of its staff in their pursuit of knowledge.
The purpose of the plan is to transform the Library so that it can better serve a growing public, one that is accessing information in rapidly changing and diverse ways. The Library's five-year goal is to double the number of unique users who take advantage of its rich collections, wide-ranging programs, inspirational reading rooms, and online offerings. The plan, which calls for a total investment of approximately $1 billion, was adopted by the Library's Board following a comprehensive 18-month study by Trustees and staff.
Mrs. Marron and Dr. LeClerc also announced that Stephen A. Schwarzman has donated $100 million to the Library as the lead gift toward a newly launched fundraising campaign in support of the plan. They were joined at the Library by Mr. Schwarzman, the Chairman, CEO and co-founder of The Blackstone Group, and a Library Trustee since 2001. His gift is by far the largest single donation in the Library's history, and, indeed, is the largest outright, unrestricted gift by an individual to any cultural organization in New York City.
In acknowledgment of his extraordinary donation, the Fifth Avenue building – currently known as the Humanities and Social Sciences Library – will be renamed the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.
The major elements of the plan, described in detail below, are:
- Renovate and reconfigure the historic Fifth Avenue building to add a vast, state-of-the-art lending library alongside its existing research divisions, thus creating the world's most comprehensive library under one roof.
- Build two new "Hub" libraries – in Northern Manhattan and Staten Island – with greatly expanded hours and services. These Hub libraries, modeled on the highly successful Bronx Library Center, will work in tandem with and support neighborhood libraries that offer essential services for their local communities.
- Expand the Library's online presence dramatically to make its unique holdings and programs accessible worldwide, and create new online communities led by its librarians and curators.
- Strengthen the Library's financial position by improving operational efficiencies and increasing the endowment.