Q: Where can you learn the names of the marble lions outside New York Public Library's main branch? A: Inside the library, where Patience and Fortitude (their names), along with much more information, can be found. The library's four research centers and about 90 branches in metropolitan New York contain more material than any other library in the US -- about 50 million items. Each year more than 15 million people visit the library's branches, which house such treasures as a Gutenberg Bible and a hand-engraved Songs of Innocence. The library was formed by the 1895 consolidation of the Astor Library, the Lenox Library, and the Tilden Trust and by a merger with the New York Free Circulating Library in 1901.
Looking to give itself a major facelift, the New York Public Library in 2009 rolled out a $1 billion renovation. The project, slated for completion in 2014, calls for the addition of a lending library beside its research divisions, two new locations in Manhattan and on Staten Island, and an online initiative that featuring its materials and developing online communities. Included in the library's funding was a $100 million donation from Stephen Schwarzman, co-founder, chairman, and CEO of The Blackstone Group. Because of his gift, the New York Public Library renamed its headquarters and flagship branch the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.
Post September 11th, the library system suffered as New York City (its primary source of funding) cut its budget, resulting in staff reductions, a hiring freeze, and reduced operating hours for most of its branches. However, by 2007, funding had increased, and the libraries were able to restore hours and some staffers. – less