July 2, 2015 Update:
Following a piece of plaster falling during non-public hours, The New York Public Library’s Rose Main Reading Room and Bill Blass Public Catalog Room have been closed for comprehensive inspection.
The Library recently received a preliminary analysis from this inspection, which is positive overall. The ceilings of these two iconic rooms are in strong shape and there are no fundamental structural problems to address. There is, however, some necessary work to be done to address some cracking in the ceiling façades, and to further secure the ceiling rosettes – which are issues common to buildings of this age and design. Related, as described in prior updates, the Library discovered asbestos in a closed attic above the Rose Main Reading Room. Asbestos is commonly found in many older buildings in New York. While we have since removed that asbestos, an examination of the ceiling of the McGraw Rotunda revealed asbestos above the ceiling in an area not accessible to the public or staff, the removal of which is in progress.
The Library will begin to move forward on all of the above work immediately. To be sure, safety and preservation of this historic space are our highest priorities. This work is highly complicated and takes great care -- the high ceiling height required enormous scaffolding and the fine detail of the rosettes require expert craftsmanship. We expect to open the Bill Blass Public Catalog Room by fall 2016, followed by the Rose Main Reading Room in early 2017. As a reminder, all services previously available in these two rooms can be accessed on the second floor corridor of the 42nd Street Library. Rooms on the third floor – including Art and Architecture, Manuscripts and Archives, and Rare Books – remain open. Related, the Library's work on expanding on-site book storage underneath Bryant Park began in February, and is expected to be complete by spring 2016.
The Library continues to thank its users for their patience. We regret any inconvenience and are working to reopen the Rose Main Reading Room and the Bill Blass Public Catalog Room as quickly as possible.