The New York Public Library is shelving a $300 million plan to revamp its flagship midtown Manhattan building and move 1.5 million books to New Jersey, library officials said Wednesday. The plan had drawn widespread opposition and was the target of four lawsuits.
“When the facts change, the only right thing to do as a public-serving institution is to take a look with fresh eyes and see if there is a way to improve the plans and to stay on budget,” library president Tony Marx said in a statement.
The plan involved selling two midtown branches, consolidating inside the main research library at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, which would have become a circulating library. The renovation would have involved moving 1.5 million books from Fifth Avenue building to storage in New Jersey.
A study showed the project’s cost would have been significantly more than the $300 million originally budgeted. Scholars also complained that moving so many books would have created hardships for researchers.
“I was not happy with so many of the books being off site, and I think many people weren’t,” said Antony Grafton, a historian.
Marx said the revised plan still will involve renovating the research library, while keeping the stacks intact. Exhibition space will be more than doubled and there will be new classroom space for children and space for researchers and writers.