700 cultural notables protest $300M 42nd Street library renovation

Hundreds of writers, artists and publishers are protesting the New York Public Library’s planned $300 million renovation of Its 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue headquarters, the New York Times reported. Some 700 people, including writers Salman Rushdie and Jonathan Lethem as well as cartoonist Art Sipegelman, sent an oppositional letter to the library president, calling for a public discussion of the plan.

The renovation is expected to convert the main library, which only contains reference materials, into a hybrid location with a circulating library, more computer terminals and possibly a café, according to the Times. The Mid-Manhattan library branch at 455 Fifth Avenue at 40th Street and the Science, Industry and Business Library at 188 Madison Avenue at 34th Street, would both be sold and their operations consolidated at the flagship building, which actually spans 40th to 42nd streets. Library officials have indicated that this plan will make the library better meet the needs of the general public.

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The cultural bigwigs take issue with this claim, writing: “More space, more computers, a café and a lending library will not improve an already democratic institution.”

Anthony Marx, the library’s president, was not available to comment to the Times. [NYT]