Controversy Continues at the New York Public Library

The New York Public Library houses one of the great research collections in the world – especially, though certainly not exclusively, for historians. And as a public library, it has long been open to anyone. When I used it during graduate school, the main reading room had other people like me, who had access to great university libraries, but found things at NYPL that their home institutions did not have; but it was also full of independent scholars working on all sorts of books and articles, scholars from institutions without great libraries, and people with far more personal projects, like the elderly man who sat near me, poring over materials on the Central European town his family had left when he was young.  Last year, the Library’s trustees unveiled a sweeping and controversial plan to transform that library. In this morning’s Chronicle of Higher EducationDavid Levering Lewis (NYU), who has researched two prize-winning books at NYPL, argues that the current plan is badly misguided and detrimental to both researchers and the public at large.

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