The New York Public Library Celebrates Reopening of Renovated St. Agnes Library with Public Ceremony and Open House, February 11

Branch Unveiling Includes Tours and a Day of Free Events with Performances, Talks, Workshops, Children’s Programs and More

New York, NY, February 1, 2010--The New York Public Library’s St. Agnes branch has served generations of users since opening at its Upper West Side location in 1906. The striking and stately building, one of the Library’s original Carnegie branches, has received a complete renovation, resulting in an upgrade that renews all of its spaces and integrates many new services and features. On February 11 the Library will celebrate the branch’s reopening with a morning ceremony and a day of free public events including programs for children and teens, a neighborhood history talk, job workshop, branch tours and more (see schedule below). The Library is located at 444 Amsterdam Avenue, between 81st and 82nd streets.

 Elizabeth Felicella

Photo: Elizabeth Felicella

“We are so pleased to reopen this magnificently restored branch to the students, job seekers, reading lovers, entrepreneurs, parents, toddlers, and others who we know are eager to take advantage of its resources,” said Library President Paul LeClerc. “The branch is set to serve a new generation of users who will use it to pursue their passions and quests for knowledge. We are deeply grateful to our elected officials, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Council Member Gale A. Brewer, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, and Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer for their funding of the restoration. We also greatly appreciate the private funding provided by Judith and Stanley Zabar; Mary McConnell Bailey; the Murray G. and Beatrice H. Sherman Charitable Trust; The William and Dewey Edelman Charitable Trust; and Lawrence Gutman.”


The library’s Renaissance Revival facade and soaring central staircase, both of which have been restored, are testaments to its history as one of the original 67 branch libraries in New York City funded by Andrew Carnegie. The renovation has been guided by the classic style of the original design by Babb, Cook, and Willard, while integrating 21st-century upgrades and improvements. For example, among the major changes are a new elevator and entrance ramp that make the library accessible to all users. The elevator has been unobtrusively integrated into the building so it maintains its historic feel, and the outdoor ramp is bounded by a reconstructed historic wrought-iron fence. Other features, such as walls of new wood bookcases, original wood panels, and the restored original wood flooring contribute to the timeless unity of the renovated building. The restoration design is by Helpern Architects.

Major Features

Among the other major improvements are a new roof; large new windows that restore original design features; new air conditioning and heating; new furniture, bookshelves, and lighting; and a floor-length, first-floor graphic installation. Dropped ceilings have been removed in order to add openness and height, and glass partitions have been utilized to allow for open views and the passage of light. The branch will offer free wireless Internet access, and 40 computers for public use (plus additional laptop computers for circulation within the library).

Every floor of the nearly 18,000-square-foot library has been completely restored. The first floor is devoted to children’s resources, with two separate reading areas, a new story-hour room illuminated by a new skylight, bright new furniture including colorful cushiony oval seats for casual reading, 12 computers for use by children, and collections numbering 20,000 items. A large graphic stretching along the entire south wall of the library encourages users to “Imagine.” The first floor also features a new circulation desk and staff offices.

The second floor is devoted to young adult and adult materials with separate reading areas for each group. It includes eight computers for young adults and another ten for adult use, as well as collections of 10,000 items for teens and 30,000 for adults.

The library’s third floor features a large community room, which seats up to 65 for events, programs, meetings and other activities. The room sits at the front of the building and benefits from natural light streaming in from street-side windows. The rest of the third floor is devoted to one of the Library system’s Centers for Reading and Writing, which offers instruction for adults learning to read and write. In addition to an open area for teaching, the Center features a computer learning lab with ten computers.

A basement space has been restored for the library’s ongoing book sale.

“The reopening of the St. Agnes Library is truly a gift to many New Yorkers. This renovation will expand the worlds of culture, art and literature on the Upper West Side,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “I am so excited to have been a part of this renovation that I know will impact the lives of so many.”

“Few things will brighten up midwinter, and the hearts and minds of West Siders, more than the reopening of the St. Agnes Library,” said City Council Member Gale A. Brewer. “This glorious restoration and modernization of our beloved library is a testament to the vision and hard work of the staff, architects, and contractors who have given us a renewed landmark and state-of-the-art facility. I am delighted to have played a part by allocating tax dollars to St. Agnes, and now I can join the millions of patrons who can return to and use their favorite library!”

“The St. Agnes branch has served the Upper West Side for more than a century, and its complete renovation will mean it will continue to be a major community asset for the next century,” said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “The original style has been maintained with the restoration of the façade and central staircase, and the library has been modernized with new reading areas, computer rooms and introduction of up to date amenities. New York City’s libraries are valued community centers for kids and families, and thanks to the renovation, the St. Agnes branch – one of the original 67 funded by Andrew Carnegie – will continue to fill that important role.”

"The reopening of the St. Agnes branch is a boon for the residents of the Upper West Side and the entire NYPL family,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer. “It is remarkable to find an institution that so deftly blends a reverence for history with an enthusiasm for the technology of the future. I am proud to join all of New York's book lovers, both young and old, in welcoming this new library back into circulation."

Library Hours

The St. Agnes Library will be open: Monday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


The St. Agnes Library has its roots in the St. Agnes Chapel at 121 West 91st Street, where a library was established by Reverend Dr. Edward A. Bradley in 1893. The library reached out to serve the neighborhood community and received a charter from the State in 1894. After operating in three subsequent neighborhood locations, the Library consolidated with The New York Public Library in 1901, and opened in its current location in 1906. The library closed in October 2007 for its current renovation.

The $9.5 million renovation was funded with a combination of public and private funds. City funding was provided by City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Council Member Gale A. Brewer, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, and Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer. Private funding was donated by Judith and Stanley Zabar; Mary McConnell Bailey; the Murray G. and Beatrice H. Sherman Charitable Trust; The William and Dewey Edelman Charitable Trust; and Lawrence Gutman.

Reopening Celebration

The February 11 festivities kick off with an 11 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring community members, elected officials, library staff, neighborhood school children and special guests. Following the ceremony, the public is invited to participate in a series of performances, children’s programs, talks, workshops, and more. Among the events planned are tours of the library; face painting, balloon animals, story hour and magic for children; a talk relating to the history of the library’s Upper West Side neighborhood; a workshop on job resources and networking; a drumming program; and a gaming session.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Free and open to the public

444 Amsterdam Avenue (near 81st Street)

11 a.m.

Opening Ceremony and Ribbon Cutting, with elected officials and special guests, including Fox News anchor Alisyn Camerota

12:30 p.m.

Magic Show, with Evan Paquette

Neighborhood History: Upper West Side Odyssey, a talk by Jim Mackin, Park West Neighborhood History Group

1 p.m.

Center for Reading and Writing, an overview with staff and students

2 p.m.

Children Sing and Celebrate Around the World, a singing program for preschoolers

Get Noticed in 2010: Networking Made Simple, a workshop for job seekers

Center for Reading and Writing, computer demonstrations and casual conversations with students and staff

3 p.m.

World Beat and Percussion with Dale Gordon, a participatory perform ance

Face Painting and Balloon Animals

Also: Gaming with Nintendo Wii


About The New York Public Library

The New York Public Library was created in 1895 with the consolidation of the private libraries of John Jacob Astor and James Lenox with the Samuel Jones Tilden Trust. The Library provides free and open access to its physical and electronic collections and information, as well as to its services. Its renowned research collections are located in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street; The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center; the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem; and the Science, Industry and Business Library at 34th Street and Madison Avenue. Eighty-seven branch libraries provide access to circulating collections and a wide range of other services in neighborhoods throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Research and circulating collections combined total more than 50 million items. In addition, each year the Library presents thousands of exhibitions and public programs, which include classes in technology, literacy, and English for speakers of other languages. All in all The New York Public Library serves more than 17 million patrons who come through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at

Contact: Public Relations Office 212.592.7700