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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Scholars File Lawsuit Against New York Public Library

The New York Public Library's Rose Main Reading Room. The New York Public Library's Rose Main Reading Room.

Since 2012, the New York Public Library has received considerable criticism stemming from its plan to renovate its landmark building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. On Wednesday, April 16, the backlash continued when a group of scholars filed a lawsuit stating that former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his administration approved the renovation project without fully evaluating its environmental impact.

The lawsuit argues that the project was approved the same day that the library submitted its application, which did not allow for an adequate assessment of the effects of the renovation. The suit asks the court to annul the approval and assign the matter to the City Council or another agency.

Initially, the New York Public Library planned to clear out the book stacks in the century-old back portion of its building, which would require relocating over three million volumes to a storage space under Bryant Park as well as another facility in Princeton, NJ. In July 2013, a group of historians and preservationists filed a lawsuit asking library officials and the project’s architect, Norman Foster, to reconsider their plan. The group also filed an application to have the library’s iconic Rose Main Reading Room landmarked in order to protect the book stacks. When the city approved the library’s proposal in December 2013, it demanded that the library develop a plan to protect the reading room and create an historical record of any book stacks that could be demolished in the renovation. The library has been working with Foster to create a new design that would retain the reading room and the book stacks. The plan has not yet been released.

Two lawsuits aiming to halt the renovation are still pending.

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