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NYPL Central Circulating Branch, The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library
Photograph: Courtesy John Bartelstone

Get a first look at New York City’s newest library

The former Mid-Manhattan Library has been closed since 2017 for a massive upgrade.

By
Shaye Weaver
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The New York Public Library's gorgeous new Central Circulating Branch reopened this week for grab-and-go service—and it's a must-see for all library enthusiasts.

The Mid-Manhattan Library at 40th Street and Fifth Avenue, now named The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library for that organization's financial contributions, had been closed since 2017 for a major $200 million renovation that includes the only free, public rooftop space in the city, a café, a multi-story wall of bookshelves, a dedicated children’s and teen center, a business and career services center, and beautiful, modern architectural changes. 

he New York Public Library Central Circulating Branch, The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library
Photograph: Courtesy Monique Jaques / NYPL

It partially opened on Monday in a limited capacity with seven other branches as part of the NYPL's plan to offer grab-and-go services for the foreseeable future.

In the first four days of grab-and-go, New Yorkers placed 10,000 holds on books to pick up from NYPL locations and 3,000 of those were placed to SNFL, according to the NYPL.

When it opens fully in the future, it'll house hundreds of thousands of books, programs and classes for children and teens, career services, English language and literacy classes, media and technology training, a multimedia studio and more.

NYPL Central Circulating Branch, The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library
Photograph: Courtesy John Bartelstone

The NYPL will continue to work on other parts of the library this year while the first floor remains open for limited service. The library was designed by architect Francine Houben of Mecanoo with Beyer Blinder Belle, and funded by the city and The Stavros Niarchos Foundation, which has funded libraries worldwide. The NYPL is planning a grand opening for the completed library, which had been originally scheduled for May 15, for later this year.

The New York Public Library Central Circulating Branch, The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library
Photograph: Courtesy Monique Jaques / NYPL

The library first occupied in the building in the 1970s in a space originally designed for the Arnold Constable & Company department store, which was, at one point, the oldest department store in America, operating for over 150 years. It primarily served wealthy shoppers like the wives of Grover Cleveland, Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller and Cornelius Vanderbilt. Even after some renovation in the early days, the NYPL considered closing it down in the 2010s, but then announced a major renovation in 2014.

NYPL Central Circulating Branch, The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library
Photograph: Courtesy Monique Jaques / NYPL

Before you go check it out, make sure you're up on what to do when you get there. The library is only allowing visitors to grab books they've reserved online or via phone, so you can't stick around otherwise. Here's more information on what to expect.

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