A Library Transformed
On June 1, 2021, The New York Public Library officially opened its completely renovated central circulating library, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL). The $200 million renovation includes eight floors of important amenities serving all ages. Using creativity and ingenuity to preserve and breathe new life into a historic New York City building, the design team behind the transformation was dedicated to creating a beautiful, light-filled, inspiring central circulating library with a classic, timeless, functional design, as well as elements that speak to the building’s history and complementary relationship to the historic Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.
(Photo by John Bartelstone)
Key elements of the new 180,000-square-foot library include:
- Capacity for approximately 400,000 books and other materials.
- A “Long Room” (see video below) offering five levels of open, browsable book stacks fronting on a dramatic, 42-foot-high atrium.
- The only free, publicly accessible rooftop terrace in Midtown.
- The 21,000-square-foot Thomas Yoseloff Business Center, providing the services and circulating collections of the former Science, Industry and Business Library.
- The 20,000-square-foot Pasculano Learning Center—the Library’s largest adult learning center.
- The new Children’s Center and Teen Center, with computers, books, programming spaces, podcasting studios, reading nooks (for any children, but specifically designed as quiet spaces for children with unique needs), and a book sorter that allows kids to return their books through a slot and watch as a conveyor belt sorts them into appropriate bins to be returned to the shelves.
- Approximately 44,000 square feet of open, general public library space, including the Marron Family Circulating Collections and double the previous seating.
The library on 40th Street and Fifth Avenue, formerly named the Mid-Manhattan Library, was renovated—and completely transformed—with generous support from New York City and a landmark $55 million grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), the second largest one-time individual gift in NYPL’s 126-year history. The building’s modern interior and overall inspiring design is by Dutch architect Francine Houben, of Mecanoo architects, along with the unique expertise of renowned New York City–based firm Beyer Blinder Belle. The building has been designed and constructed to meet LEED standards, and is in the process of obtaining certification.
The renovated branch is central to the Library’s plan to create a world-class learning center in the middle of Midtown, uniting in one central campus the Library’s full spectrum of resources—from the Library’s renowned historical collections cherished by scholars from around the world to its much-needed circulating materials, programs, and events for all ages.
- Victor Chu, Director/Producer – Sky Tech One
- Justin Namon, FPV Pilot
- Zoltan German, Production Assistant
Find our opening hours, free programs, and more information about SNFL’s centers, amenities, and services.
(Photo by John Bartelstone)
Special Storytime: Welcome to the New Children’s Center!
To welcome kids to the all-new Children’s Center at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL), enjoy this special celebratory storytime from Louise Lareau, Managing Librarian at the Children's Center. Louise introduces and explores the fabulous new Children’s Center and reads Where Is Our Library? by Josh Funk, illustrated by Stevie Lewis.
Discover all our virtual storytimes, including multilingual storytimes and Drag Queen Story Hours. Check back for new stories Mondays to Thursdays!
Using creativity and ingenuity to preserve and breathe new life into a historic New York City building, the SNFL design team represents a true collaboration between Mecanoo, which led the design stages; Beyer Blinder Belle, which led the historic preservation and acted as architect of record; and the Library’s leadership and Capital Planning staff.
(Photo by Max Touhey)
Becoming SNFL: Before and After Photos
See just how much has changed in these spectacular comparison shots of the newly renovated Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL) before and after the completion of its construction. Explore more photos.
(All "after" photos by Max Touhey)
Explore the history of the site where the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL) now stands, from the opening of the Arnold, Constable & Company department store in 1915, through the arrival of The New York Public Library on the site in 1970, to the opening of the newly renovated SNFL in 2021.
(Contemporary photo by Max Touhey)