New York Public Library Renovations: Good or Bad?

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The New York Public Library has been working double time to boost positive P.R. about $300-million in planned renovations to its lion-fronted flagship on Fifth Avenue.

Indeed, NYPL President Anthony Marx, in addition to penning many pro-change op-eds, has also agreed to field the public's questions in the New York Times this week.

If you haven't been following anti-revamp flack, critics largely claim that the project -- which also calls for the sale of two beloved branch libraries -- might give the landmark location a Starbucks or Barnes & Noble vibe, discouraging the studious atmosphere and serious scholarship for which it was originally designed.

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The New York Public Library's Maps Project is a Time Machine for Your Neighborhood

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Broadway in 1860, from NYPL archives
While public library systems across the country flounder in the face of declining tax revenue and dwindling readership, the New York Public Library is somehow managing to survive. Rather than run away from digitization, NYPL has embraced it, and has recently produced a series of projects which are helping make information more open to the public.

The library just finished archiving its collection of public domain atlases, more than 10,000 in all, and has built a website to make them accessible online. Now you can look through maps of the city going back, in some cases, to the 1700s, and find out what Lower Manhattan looked like in 1854 compared to now. If you're feeling generous or bored, you can also donate your time online to fix warped maps and add to the database.

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Clemency Granted For Underage New York Public Library Fines

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Remember taking out books at the library as a kid? Remember the ensuing library fines when you couldn't get it together to return the books in time, and how you're pretty sure there are still never-returned library copies of Nancy Drew books from 15 years ago in your parents' house? In a noble attempt to not scare kids away, the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library and the Queens Library are all going to forgive fines on overdue library books. Up until now, if you accrued more than $15 in late fees, the libraries would stop you from borrowing any more materials. From now until Halloween, the "New Chapter" initiative will absolve kids under 18 from having to pay for their overdue books. The libraries say 100,000 kids will benefit from the program.

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Little Girl Who Fought Library 'Bugget Cuts' Still Has Words for Mayor Bloomberg

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Rita Meade, the librarian behind the blog Screwy Decimal, who originally posted about one spunky little girl's vaguely threatening postcards to Mayor Bloomberg (an effort to scare him into keeping New York Public Library budgets intact) has followed up with the girl after budgets were, happily, largely restored to the libraries. She found that -- lo and behold -- the sass is still intact as well.

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New York Public Library Wins in Fight Against 'Bugget Cuts'

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Last week we posted about one little girl's attempt to keep the New York Public Library functioning, a method that included vaguely yet awesomely threatening letters to Mayor Bloomberg ("Do Not Cut the Library's Buggets OR ELSE"!). That girl will be happy, because today word came from Angela Montefinise, PR director of the NYPL, that the library has had its funding largely restored in the newly adopted New York City budget. Yay.

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New York Landmarks Continue Social Media Revolution: The New York Public Library, Empire State Building

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It seems like everyone is "joining" Twitter or "getting" a Tumblr these days. Especially in the case of certain New York City landmarks, who are taking to social networking like digitized screen-saver fish to a watery stream of information.

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