The Library without Walls

Information Today, February 1992 | Go to article overview

The Library without Walls


Late last fall the New York Public Library announced plans to open a new Science, Industry, and Business Library in the landmark B. Altman building. The announcement was made at a press conference held at the B. Altman building and attended by library officials, the mayor of New York City, David Dinkins, and the governor of New York State, Mario Cuomo.

What made the announcement significant is that the project is being described as a "library without walls." Timothy S. Healy, the Library's President, said the Science, Industry, and Business Library (SIBL) will use information technologies to provide new kinds of targeted services to small businesses, entrepreneurs, corporations, scientists, secondary and college students, and research scholars. "The Science, Industry, and Business Library will truly be a library without walls," Healy commented. "With the completion of an integrated technology system in The New York Public Library branch library system, the circulating branch libraries will also be able to tap into the unparalleled science and business resources of our Science, Industry, and Business Library," Healy added.

This new library will be created by merging and recasting The New York Public Library's extensive holdings in science, industry, and business. The collections, which total more than 2.5 million volumes, are currently housed in the Central Research Library and at the Annex on West 43rd Street.

The new library will be situated in approximately 200,000 square feet of the B. Altman building. Construction will begin in mid-1992 and is scheduled for completion in 1995. The work will transform the basement and first six floors into a dynamic, "user-friendly" research center.

An innovative financing scheme has been developed by the Library to finance the $80 million for the project. It is anticipated that $25 million will come from the public sector. …

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