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Scholars File Lawsuit To Stop New York Public Library Renovation

Say The Idea Of Removing 3.5 Million Books From Research Facility is Crazy

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An ambitious plan to modernize the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue is not going over well with some of the people who use it – and they are going to court to stop it.

As CBS 2′ Steve Langford reported Friday, the library wants to sack the stacks.

From the beginning the central mission of the city’s main library has been to provide a world class research facility. A key feature — an awe-inspiring reading room built on top of seven floors of books, better known as the stacks.

Now, academics are going to court to keep it that way.

According to the lawsuit, the plan is to remove 3.5 million books from the central library and move many of them to a storage facility in New Jersey.

“We got one of the three or four greatest research libraries on the planet,” historian and scholar Jacob Morris said.

Morris, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said removing the millions of volumes of research materials from the library, and turning it into a regular circulating library, is like taking the engine out of a powerful sports car.

“You still got something that looks like a Ferrari but it won’t do what a Ferrari does anymore,” Morris said.

Arthur Schwartz, one of the attorneys filing suit, said the New York Public Library has already removed hundreds of thousands of volumes from the once-spectacular research facility, and scholars now have to order books from the storage facility in Princeton, N.J.

“I think that what they’re doing is taking a position that all research in the future is largely going to be digital,” Schwartz said. “People that have worked with it have said sometimes they waited weeks for them to get the volume they used to be able to get in minutes.”

The New York Public Library issued a statement in reaction to the lawsuit, saying, “We think the renovation offers a great opportunity to improve libraries for all New Yorkers. We have not yet reviewed the complaint.”

The two sides are set to meet in court for the first time on Monday.

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