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tions of modern paintings, to TOMPKINS SQUARE; Hollyer's etched views of New York City, to CHATHAM SQUARE; Colored illustrations of bird life, to RIVINGTON STREET; Racinet's costume, before the XVIth century, to Mott Haven; Photographic views of the Island of Luzon, to 135TH STREET; Masterpieces of Art, Paris Exposition, 1900, to 96TH STREET; Reproductions of paintings by old masters, to RIVERSIDE.

Picture bulletins and temporary collections of books on special shelves at the circulation branches were as follows:

EAST BROADWAY, Springtime in Central Park, Stories of the Red Men; BOND STREET, Presidents of the United States; TOMPKINS SQUARE, Animals, cats and dogs, Travel; MUHLENBERG, Civil Service; 67TH STREET, Amusing stories, Stories of the Revolutionary War, Vacation days, For little housekeepers; RIVERSIDE, Sports, King Arthur and his Knights; St. AGNES, War stories, Indian tales; 96TH STREET, Holland, Dates in June to be remembered; BLOOMINGDALE, Historic New York; HARLEM LIBRARY, Vacation trips; 125TH STREET, Automobiles, Golden Age, Labour; TREMONT, Stories most men like; Port RICHMOND, Summer, Electricity, Music, Shakespeare, Mark Twain's books, Indians, Railroads.

In addition there were bulletins on Independence Day at nine branches, on Flag Day at nine, on New Books at eight, on Sea Stories at five, on Birds at three, on Gardening at two, on Animal Stories at two, on College Stories at two, on Birthdays of celebrated men and women in June at two, and on Out of doors at two branches.



Ten years have now elapsed since the consolidation of the Astor Library, the Lenox Library, and the Tilden Trust, and the practical working organization of the New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations. It is not only interesting but wise to review what has been accomplished and see how the new corporation has acquitted itself before the public.

Prior to the consolidation the Astor and Lenox Libraries, although somewhat isolated and old-fashioned, had been of incalculable benefit to scholars and students; in fact they were the only reference libraries in the city for general public use. The collections of books were of great value, but neither institution could keep pace with modern public demands for new books and for better service, and neither separately nor in combination could they expect permanently to occupy the field as in the past. The Tilden Trust, moreover, owing to the setting aside of Mr. Tilden's will, had but a portion of his estate to apply to the purposes of the Trust and could hope only to duplicate the work of the other libraries.

It was therefore determined to consolidate the three corporations, to make more available to public use the valuable collections of books by means of the joint funds, but more especially to enlist the interest of the public, to obtain the aid of the city authorities in the construction of a suitable building, and, in the language of an address to the Mayor in February 1896, “to adopt the broadest policy possible in reference to the nature and scope of the New York Public Library which the funds at the disposal of the corporation, or which can be obtained, permit."


The result of this action was satisfactory in a high degree. In the address above referred to the Board of Trustees applied to the city authorities for their approval of such legislation as would enable the city to grant to this corporation a proper site for its library building and the

funds necessary to construct and equip it and asked that the site of the reservoir on Fifth Avenue between Fortieth and Forty-second Streets be granted for this purpose. The preliminary legislation thus requested was granted by an act of the legislature approved by the Governor May 19th, 1896, and the bill “to provide for the construction of a building in Bryant Park in the City of New York to be occupied by the New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations,” became a law just one year later, May 19, 1897.

On May 21, 1897, specifications for a preliminary competition for plans for the new building were issued by the Board, and on August 2, 1897, the terms of the final competition were given to twelve architects. On November 8, 1897, the jury of award reported in favor of the plans submitted by Carrère & Hastings, and these plans were approved by the Board of Estimate on December 1, 1897. On December 8, 1897, a lease and agreement for the occupation of the building when completed was signed by the municipal authorities and the officers of the Library.

Progress in the construction of the building has been unexpectedly slow. It is fair to bear in mind that the building is a very large one, 390 feet in front on Fifth Avenue by 270 feet in depth, covering about two and one-half acres; that much of the original delay was caused by difficulties attending the removal of the reservoir and the excavations; that the problems of construction in reference to reading rooms, stack work, heating and ventilation involve new questions and are complicated; and apparently the safeguards, so called, which surround public contracts, seem always to invite litigation and delay. On the other hand it is certainly true that the delay has given time for further study and improvement of the plans and has produced a much better result.

The building is four stories high and includes two open courts for light and air, each being about 80 feet square. All exterior walls are of white marble, and the whole structure is thoroughly fire proof. The main stack will contain 1,600,000 volumes and immediately over it are the public reading rooms with seats for 700 persons. Special provision is made for the needs of students and scholars in certain rooms not open to the general public, and containing special collections, one being devoted to early American history, another to science—and others to sociology, technology, patents, music, maps, etc. The total number of seats for readers is 1,000, and there will be shelving for two millions of volumes. Special rooms are devoted to the print department, the picture gallery, the Library for the blind, the children's department, the periodical room, the newspaper room, the lending department.

The following statement shows the progress made in the preparation of plans and specifications and the award of contracts for the construction to the present time.

Contract # 1. For the removal of the reservoir and building of founda

tions. Plans and specifications submitted to the Park Department January, 1899; bids received April 27, 1899; contract awarded May 17, 1899; Eugene Lentilhon contractor; amount $288,314.75; work begun June, 1899.

2. For boiler and engine room extension. Submitted to Park

Department May 29, 1900; bids received February 7, 1901; contract awarded March 21, 1901; Herman Probst contractor; amount $49,567.80; work begun April 1, 1901.

3. For rock excavation, boiler and engine room extension.

Plans and specifications submitted to Park Department August 19, 1901; bids received November 21, 1901; contract awarded January, 1902; F. Thileman contractor; amount $27,183.76; work begun February 20, 1902.

4. For erection of the main structure. Submitted to Park

Department May 29, 1900; bids received June 13, 1901; contract awarded June 20, 1901; Norcross Brothers contractor; amount $2,865,706; work begun December, 1901.

5. For construction and erection of book stacks. Submitted to

Park Department July 15, 1903; bids received October 29, 1903; rejected December 29, 1903; new plans and specifications submitted to Park Department April 23, 1904; bids received September 22, 1904; contract awarded November 18, 1904; Snead & Co. Iron Works contractor; amount $916,703; work begun January, 1905.

6. For heating and ventilation. Submitted to Park Depart

ment December 15, 1903; bids received December 8, 1904; contract awarded December 30, 1904; Frank Dobson contractor; amount $299,000; work begun September 1, 1905.

7. For plumbing and drainage. Submitted to Park Depart

ment January 9, 1906.

It will be seen from this statement that from six months to more than a year has elapsed in most cases between the dates of submitting plans and specifications to the Park Department and the receiving of bids.

In addition to the above, plans and specifications for the following contracts are well advanced and can probably be submitted to the city authorities very soon :

8. For electric light and power.
9. For the interior finish.
10. For statuary of the exterior front.
11. For finishing of grounds and approaches.

These contracts comprise all the contracts for construction.
The specifications for furniture and for the equipment have not yet been

taken up.


During the calendar year 1896 the number of readers at the Astor Library was 96,260, and at the Lenox Library 13,228, or 109,488 in all. The volumes consulted were 236,513 at the Astor and 55,692 at the Lenox, making a total of 292,205 in all.

During the year ending June 30, 1905, the number of readers and visitors—that is, the total number of people entering the doors-was at the Astor, 142,849, and at the Lenox, 57,389, or 200, 238 in all; the number of desk applicants filling out orders for books was 159,695, and the number of volumes consulted by them was 615,454. The increase at the Astor would have been greater if it were possible to provide more seats in the Astor reading rooms; as it is, in the afternoons it often happens that there are more readers than can be seated.

The table on page 5 shows the increase in the use of the reference branches of the Library for the last nine years, year by year.

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