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Changes at NYPL

Heard this news story on NPR this morning:

Loud Debate Rages Over NY Library's Quiet Stacks

In a nutshell, they're planning a huge renovation to the NY Public Library on 42nd street (you know, the one with those infamous lions). It includes:

* Getting rid of 7 floors of (publicly inaccessible) stacks and moving the collection off-site (some nearby, some in New Jersey, all accessible within 24 hours they say).
* Sell two buildings (Mid-Manhattan and Science, Industry and Business Libraries) and consolidate all 3 collections.
* The goal is an influx of about $350 million for the renovations, new librarians and curators, and to be able to stay open later.

Of course, there are those who are up in arms. Their concerns include:

* They should focus on the library's branches first.
* Researchers may be inconvenienced.
* Actually being able to get the books in 24 hours.
* Don't make any big changes until we see where e-books go.

Good points, and worthy of discussion, I think. It sounds like the folks at NYPL are learning a lesson in both how to approach transparency and how to handle their PR. I personally hope they're successful in their efforts.

However, this line got me irked:

"The 42nd Street library is one of the world's great research libraries," Sherman told WNYC's Leonard Lopate in March. "And the Central Library Plan is basically a plan to turn it into a giant Internet cafe."

Oh, yes, that's EXACTLY the plan. Obviously.

Also, this:

Charles Peterson, editor of the literary magazine N+1, says a transitional era — when relatively new devices like the iPad and Kindle are reshaping how people read and use books — calls for a more transitional plan.

When HASN'T technology been changing? If we waited 10-20 years to "see where things go" don't you think there won't be an entirely *new* technology being developed by then? And then what - we wait another 10-20 years to see where *that* goes?



( 4 comments — Comment )
Jun. 12th, 2012 02:48 pm (UTC)
Yeah, 'cause, like, you know, technological change is just getting slower and slower these days eventually there will be a point where we can confidetnly say 'OK NOW we will be able to predict where tech is going!"
Jun. 12th, 2012 05:26 pm (UTC)
It obviously happened with microfilm, right? :)
Jun. 12th, 2012 11:34 pm (UTC)
In 2004 or thereabouts we opened up a great big beautiful public library in Montreal, the Grande Bibliothèque du Québec, with all the technological bells and whistles but also over 4 million volumes of paper books (including the entire collection of the Montreal central library as well as the public collection of the National Library of Quebec). Anyway, there were long line-ups in the lobby every day for six months to get cards, it's smashed all usage projections, and it's become the most popular library in the entire Francophonie. Sure, lots of people come to use their laptops or to listen to music or watch movies in the multimedia collection; but lots of them are also checking out books. The death of the book has been slightly exaggerated...
Jun. 13th, 2012 02:04 am (UTC)
The thing is, no one's throwing away any books, they're just finding ways to make their money and space more efficient. It's not like the librarians haven't thought of all this, nor are they suddenly mindless idiots that weep in rapture while clutching their Nooks and Kindles.
( 4 comments — Comment )

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