Jeff Mkt. Library closing; Ottendorfer reopens

Invest In Libraries Rally
Invest In Libraries Rally

BY GABE HERMAN | The New York Public Library sent an e-mail notice on March 9 to Jefferson Market branch users that it would be closed for three months starting April 1 for the start of renovations.

In the notice, Dawn Chance, associate director for the Lower Manhattan Neighborhood Library Network, said Jefferson Market would reopen this summer, though with limited access to areas still under construction. The $10 million renovation project is scheduled to be completed in summer 2020.

The project includes reconfiguring the library’s front entrance at Sixth Ave. between W. Ninth and W. 10th Sts., including cleaning and restoring masonry; adding an accessibility ramp at the building’s rear along W. 10th St.; upgrading the elevator to service all floors and remove the need for platform and stair lifts; reconstructing ADA accessible bathrooms; adding more public space in the lobby; and improving the building’s IT wiring and equipment.

A design of the new ramp to be added at the Jefferson Market Library, at W. 10th St. and Sixth Ave. (Courtesy N.Y.P.L.)

“To best accommodate patrons during Jefferson Market Library’s temporary closure, the Hudson Park branch will have extended hours and will manage Jefferson Market Library’s DVD collection,” the notice added.

All items on hold at Jefferson Market after April 1 will be available for pickup at the Hudson Park branch, at 66 Leroy St. in the West Village.

Jefferson Market’s temporary closure was originally planned for this past winter, but was pushed to the spring due to community feedback, according to an N.Y.P.L. spokesperson.

The nearby Ottendorfer branch reopened March 11 after a six-month renovation that installed a sprinkler and fire alarm system. Located at 135 Second Ave., between St. Mark’s Place and E. Ninth St., it’s the library system’s oldest branch, dating to 1884.

To celebrate its reopening, the Ottendorfer branch hosted a series of events on March 14, including an opening reception, a teen video game tournament and coloring for adults.

On March 11, the city’s three public library presidents — testifying at a preliminary budget hearing at City Hall — requested increased funds to maintain current services and meet growing library needs.

Anthony Marx speaking at a March 11 City Hall rally for library funding. (Photo by Jonathan Blanc / N.Y.P.L.)

The hearing concerned the 2020 fiscal budget, and the presidents included Anthony Marx of N.Y.P.L., Linda Johnson of Brooklyn Public Library, and Dennis Walcott of Queens Library. They said they plan to ask for $35 million in additional funding for 2020, and $957 million over 10 years for technology upgrades, renovations and needed maintenance. City funding for the libraries in recent years has hovered around $370 million annually.

The three library presidents also rallied outside City Hall, joined by supporters, including City Council Deputy Leader Jimmy Van Bramer and Christian Zabriskie, executive director of Urban Libraries Unite. The group launched a campaign called Invest in Libraries: Libraries Make NYC Stronger, which includes a letter-writing campaign at investinlibraries.org.

“As we do more — because we are asked to do more and because we must do more — the foundation we are building on is cracking, especially in the face of rising costs,” said Marx. “We know times are tough and budgets are tight. But libraries are uniquely positioned to strengthen New York City by providing vital support to the city’s broader efforts. They cannot be replaced, and they are not a luxury. Now is not the time to put libraries on the back burner.”