05 January 2009

New York: NYPL stacks, some services suspended

Library junkies planning a trip to the famed New York Public Library, at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street, should know that the central stacks in the Humanities and Social Sciences Library are closed while a library façade restoration is underway. The illustration above is dated 1907 and from the NYPL archives.

According to the library website, 65% of the general research material, material requested from off-site prior to December 19, 2008, interlibrary loan material, and some of the children's collection are not available.

However, you can still visit the lions outside! Learn more about the pink Tennessee marble lions, named Patience (south) and Fortitude (north), here. They have guarded the library since 1911.

Here's some information on the restoration project:

The monumental marble facade of The New York Public Library stretches 390 feet along Fifth Avenue in a grand statement of presence and purpose. Yet in the 96 years since the building opened, the Library's exterior, which also faces Bryant Park, 42nd Street and 40th Street, has been subject to forces of weather and urban pollution that have taken their toll, wearing away at the beauty and form of the intricate stone structure.

Today the Library announced that it is undertaking a three-year restoration of the facade of the historic building now formally known as the Humanities and Social Sciences Library. The project will include a complete cleaning of the building's Vermont marble, repair of almost 3,000 cracks, protection and preservation of the many sculptural elements, and repair of the building's roof, stairs, and plazas. The restoration will be completed in time for the building's centennial, in 2011.

The landmark building, a white marble Beaux-Arts revival, designed by John Merven Carrère and Thomas Hastings, was completed in 1911 after 12 years of construction. At the time, it was the largest marble structure in the United States.

According to the NYPL release, the original architectural drawings by Carrère and Hastings, (preserved in the Library’s archives), were consulted, digitized and used to record findings from the four-month survey and inspection of the facade and roof.

The building was extensively surveyed from a boom lift and swing stages, although to evaluate difficult to reach areas, members of WJE's Difficult Access Team rapelled and dropped down with a series of ropes suspended from the roof ...

Details of findings were recorded on portable electronic tablets, and wirelessly linked digital photographs into CAD drawings. Marble fragments and samples were taken to WJE's labs, where potential solutions were selected and trial repairs conducted. The restoration will use high-temperature, low-pressure steam to clean the building and laser techniques for delicate areas.

Visitors and pedestrians are protected from falling debris by netting and sidewalk bridges installed around the library's exterior. Restoration will begin with the Bryant Park facade.

For more on the restoration project, click here.

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