- My NYPL
Tools and Services
- Using the Library
I am a...
- Classes & Events
- Support the Library
The central building was always meant to include a circulating library, and had one from the day it opened until this service was moved to the Mid-Manhattan Library more than three decades ago. “There shall at all times be established and maintained in the said library a free circulating branch,” reads the original lease agreement between NYPL and the City of New York for the 42nd Street building. “And that the same shall be opened for the use of the public.” Returning the circulating library to the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is restoring it to its original historic function.
The renovation will bring a circulating book collection and other materials back to the 42nd Street building, and the hundreds of programs and services that currently reside in the Mid-Manhattan Library. These services will be expanded in a larger, inspiring venue. Designed by award-winning architect Norman Foster, the new circulating library will exist in a space, roughly as large as a football field and multiple stories high, to which the public has never had access. Open most nights until 11:00 p.m., the new library will feature services that we know are needed by our current users: more librarian assistance, quiet study and collaborative spaces, additional computers, quick and easy access to our highest demand books and materials for users on the go. Additionally, the library will be designed to be flexible and to accommodate the services of future decades.
Researchers & Writers
The 42nd Street library has long been one of the world’s preeminent research institutions. Open to the public, unlike most academic libraries, it is the ultimate democratic resource, relied upon by independent scholars, students, and writers from across the globe.
The renovation offers the opportunity to greatly improve scholar and writer services. Several historic spaces in the building — long closed to the public — will be restored and reopened for researchers and writers, allowing for a doubling of NYPL’s resident scholars and writers programs. The historical integrity of existing spaces for researchers and writers will remain unchanged. There will be an increase in digital research resources accessible via scholars’ personal devices, as well as expanded access to digital technologies that assist scholars and writers, and much easier access to interdisciplinary collections within the building. The project will also allow the Library to hire additional research staff.
Book preservation for the vast Library collection will also be accomplished through the renovation. As the current stacks are an inadequate preservation environment, by building out the second floor of storage underneath Bryant Park, and moving the books from the current stacks into this improved storage environment, the Library will be able to accomplish its twin objectives: preserving the research collections, and providing researchers easy and prompt access to books and other materials.
The Library’s premier services for business owners, entrepreneurs, and job seekers will be moved into a new business library, enabling users to conveniently access these services alongside other branch and research services. The new business library will provide an extensive collection of reference materials, including the latest industry information, as well as offering free and ready access to high-end subscription databases with the most up-to-date business, finance, and job-search data. Entrepreneurs, business owners, and students will continue to have access to highly trained staff, including specialists in small business and international trade; to hundreds of free programs on starting and growing a business and financial literacy; and to free, one-on-one counseling provided by trusted partners of the Library. For many New Yorkers, the business information center will provide expansive, one-stop access to a broad continuum of resources and services not available for free anywhere else. With expert staff, private consultation rooms, and dedicated training spaces, the center will have the capacity for unprecedented numbers of users.
Children & Teens
The 42nd Street library will become a destination of learning and fun for families and young students after the renovation. An expanded children’s room will accommodate more programming, children’s books, and computers, and the first-ever teen room in the building will give young adults a place to go, get homework help, use computers (about one-third of New Yorkers do not have broadband access, which is especially difficult for teens in school), and participate in programming designed specifically for their age. Residing in the same space within the 42nd Street building that originally held the children’s library (but for decades has been occupied by back-office library staff), the renovated space will offer a means to introduce tomorrow’s leaders of New York to a world of ideas and knowledge creation — and particularly to the inspiring environment of the Schwarzman Building.
The Schwarzman Building is, for great reason, an international tourist destination. After the renovation, visitors will still be able to take in the architectural gem that is the 42nd Street building, appreciating the Beaux-Arts designs and historic spaces. While there will be no changes to the historical integrity of the iconic public rooms, access to these areas will be enhanced through digital and way-finding aids. Exhibition space will be expanded, and will include a new free exhibition of Library treasures (among them, the Bill of Rights, Virginia Woolf’s diary, and Malcolm X’s briefcase) in the Gottesman Exhibition Hall.