Anthony Marx, the president of New York Public Library, posted today an extensive question and answer document about the future of NYPL on the library’s Huffington Post page. The document includes details about renovation plans for the flagship Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, including these comments:
As for the invaluable research collections, the plan addresses very serious storage and preservation needs, ensuring that the collections will be available to students, writers, and academics for generations to come. Materials shelved in our current stacks — built under the Rose Main Reading Room more than a century ago — are in jeopardy of damage and decay. Extensive research has led to a solution: most of those collections will stay on-site; some materials, such as items never requested and those easily accessible elsewhere and available digitally, will be moved off-site, where they will be housed in optimal preservation conditions while remaining easily retrievable within 24 hours….
… Materials accounting for 90 percent of research usage will stay at 42nd Street. Frequently and even rarely used volumes and materials, special collections, and items belonging to unique collections that need to remain on-site — will remain. At a minimum, we expect to retain all humanities, social science, and business books from at least the past two decades; and core history, literature, area studies, art, genealogy, technology, and business and industry materials that would be difficult to access elsewhere. Whenever possible, we will err on the side of keeping books on-site. To be clear, if we need to make space for even more books at 42nd Street than planned in order for NYPL to remain one of the best research libraries in the world, then we will do so….
…While a number of books will be moved off-site for improved conservation and to help make room for the circulating library, it is a patent misconception that all the books will be removed.
…I would also like to address one erroneous criticism that has been repeated several times: the idea that books are making way for an “Internet café.” This is simply untrue. …
…The 24-hour turnaround time for off-site research materials is critical to the success of this plan. Our commitment to this time frame is real, it is part of our budgeting plan, and we are already working to make it a reality.
In addition to many more comments, Marx points readers to an NYPL site where they can make comments and suggestions about the plan.