Photo: Jonathan Blanc / NYPL

There is a lot abuzz at the New York Public Library’s main branch at 42nd Street, including a new exhibition of rare items from J.D. Salinger’s personal collection and many renovations underway. Today, an 8,000 square foot Center for Research in the Humanities will open on the second floor of the library. The Center which has a total of nine rooms is “dedicated to quiet research work, with the Library’s research collections, temporary displays, and collections-related programming.” Although 56 seats within the Center are dedicated for authors, scholars and students doing extensive research by application only, The James Lenox and John Jacob Astor Room is a book lovers paradise for lectures and programming, filled with 1,800 books and three paintings that were gifted to the New York Public Library by Brooke Russell Astor.

Photo: Jonathan Blanc / NYPL

It’s an exciting time because these rooms were previously off-limits to the public, as staff offices and storage space. The Library states that “The Center is a part of the Library’s master plan to improve, enhance, and open more public space in its iconic 42nd Street building.” A long stone hallway with historic wooden doors will also lead to additional spaces dedicated for short-term displays,  class visits, and other programs, including a “Research Instructional Series” to teach the public how to conduct various types of research, a “Collections Open Houses” on the first Wednesday of each month with small displays of collections materials, and a “Scholarly Communications Series” for those in the research / scholar community looking to learn practical things such as how to copyright material or make citations

Photo: Jonathan Blanc / NYPL

The preservation work and new design were done by architects Mecanoo and Beyer Blinder Belle, including cleaning of the original stones and floors, restoration of existing materials, adding new lighting, installing new cork floors that were historically used in the building, and improving the acoustics and AV capability of the rooms.

Photo: Jonathan Blanc / NYPL

Next, check out the Top 10 Secrets of the NYPL.

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