Ian Frazier: Defending New York’s Public Libraries : The New Yorker.
he New York Public Library’s announcement that it is abandoning its Central Library Plan has been praised as a good and sensible thing, and indeed it is. The C.L.P. would have sold off the Mid-Manhattan Library and the Science, Industry, and Business Library (called SIBL; five of its floors not open to the public have been sold already). The collections of those libraries would have been moved to the main research library, on Fifth Avenue, and elsewhere. That hundred-and-three-year-old edifice (now known as the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building), with the stone lions out front, would have been reconfigured: seven floors of its stacks taken out, a lending library added to what had been a research library only, more than a million books moved off-site, and a four-level atrium and other new elements put in, following a design by the architect Norman Foster.