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Renovation News: Books & People 2024

June 3, 2024

Dear Members,

Exciting things are happening! Since we launched the New York Society Library's Campaign for Books & People 2 weeks ago, we have already raised an additional $200,000! That brings us to 83% of our goal, but we still need more of you to contribute to help us close the gap. I hope you will join your fellow members and consider a gift to the campaign. It's easy to donate online!

The new semi-rare book storage wing is taking shape! See the photo below of the rebar that has already been laid and the concrete being poured for the floor. This week, our contractors will be continuing a bit of demolition and creating temporary walls in stack 3 and stack 4 to prepare for the doors to the new wing to be cut. So, apologies in advance, but expect some noise this week, especially Tuesday, 6/4 through Thursday, 6/6. Please continue to check this space for advance warning of construction activities that may infringe on your normally quiet haven. We hope the work will not be too disruptive.

In the meantime, please don't hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns. I can be reached at cwaters@nysoclib.org, 212-288-6900 x244, or at the Reference Desk at noon most days!

all the best,






May 20, 2024

Dear Members,

Since my last message, the work on the rear yard book storage wing has continued. Our contractors have completed the required excavation, and are preparing the north wall for waterproofing. They should be pouring concrete for the foundation of the structure by the first week in June. While that is happening, the staff and I are busy developing plans for phase 2, the interior renovation, which is expected to begin in late August. During that phase, we will remain fully open, but there will be some periodic disruptions to normal operations. As the schedule becomes clearer, we will be in touch well in advance to let you know how it will impact members and visitors.

Some of you must be wondering how we are paying for this renovation. I am so pleased to let you know that due to the efforts of our stellar Capital Campaign Committee (George L.K. Frelinghuysen, Co-Chair; Jenny Lawrence, Co-Chair; Charles G. Berry, Honorary Chair; Roger Pasquier; Francesca Stanfill; and James Addona and Diane Srebnick from our Development Department), we have already raised 80% of the $7.3 million cost of the renovation project. Today, we launch The New York Society Library's Campaign for Books & People and we hope you will all join our early donors to support this transformative project and help us raise the remaining $1.5 million we need to close the gap.

There are many ways to give: Donate online. To donate by phone, arrange for a stock transfer or get additional information, please call Diane Srebnick at 212-288-6900 x214 or email development@nysoclib.org. You may also send a check payable to The New York Society Library, 53 East 79th Street, New York, NY 10075.

I hope you will support this project, which will provide much needed space for books, for events, for reading and study, and for staff! Please don't hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions.

All best,






March 20, 2024

Dear members,

Despite my previous message, the demolition of the rear yard slab began on March 11, at approximately 8:07am. That's when I first heard the jackhammering. As of this date, the work continues, and while there has been some noise, as expected, I hope it hasn't been too bad for those of you working in the building. The good news, as I previously mentioned, is that the Library's spaces and collections remain accessible. During this first phase, which is expected to take approximately until the end of July, the construction crew will be building the new storage wing for our semi-rare books and folios in the rear yard. We have closed Stack 3 (300s Social Science) to members for your safety while this work is underway. However, the books are available for you to check out - please just ask a staff member to retrieve titles for you. 

Here's a building map showing what areas of the building will be renovated in each phase. Phase 2a (green-shaded areas) is expected to begin in August, with Phase 2b (yellow-shaded areas) somewhere near the end of 2024.

I'm attaching some photos of the progress of the demolition in the rear yard, and a rendering of what this storage wing may look like once the compact shelving system is installed. 

Don't hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions or are interested in supporting the project! I will continue to update this page as the project progresses.

all best,



February 28th, 2024

Dear members,

I am writing with exciting news! In 2024, as we celebrate the Library’s 270th anniversary, we will also be embarking on a transformative building project to create more space for books and for people.

If you work or study here, you know that finding a spot to hunker down is getting harder, especially at certain times of day. Spend any amount of time in the book stacks and you will see that the shelves are exceptionally packed, so finding space for the nearly 4,000 new books we purchase each year is a real challenge. Those of you attending seminars, children’s programs, writing groups or workshops might not realize the struggles staff have in negotiating space to host these events without displacing too many readers and writers. Our exceptional staff, which has grown significantly over the years to provide our current level of service, are housed in cramped and inefficient spaces – many in an actual book stack!

A plan to address these mounting issues has long been in the works. Our architect, Doug Larson of Larson Architecture Works, has envisioned a thoughtful and remarkable design that reconfigures and improves the way our building space is used. The project will be carried out in two phases to allow the Library to remain open and accessible throughout the renovation. In the first phase, we will build a storage wing in the rear yard to house our semi-rare books and folios. In the second phase, we will begin interior renovations in the basement, first floor, and fourth floor, which will create a new flexible-use space for members and for events, open up additional shelving for books, and provide new staff workspaces.

The first phase will begin on March 4 with selective demolition of our existing rear yard slab, so expect a little noise next week. Some books have been temporarily removed from stack 3 in preparation for the rear yard wing, so if you are looking for any of those titles, please just ask a staff member and we’ll get them for you.

I will be communicating more information as the project progresses, and we will set up a webpage shortly to provide regular updates. In the meantime, if you have any questions about the renovation, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. We hope you will want to support this project, and James Addona, Head of Development (jaddona@nysoclib.org; 212-288-6900 x207) will be happy to discuss further!

all best,


Carolyn Waters
Director & Head Librarian
212-288-6900 x244