The New York Public Library To Open A Brand New Roosevelt Island Branch, Offering the Community Double the Space and Expanded Resources

The new 5,200-square-foot library, which replaces the former one-room branch, opens for grab-and-go service on January 25 – Roosevelt Island is ready for a new chapter.

The New York Public Library is opening a beautiful, brand new Roosevelt Island branch at 504 Main Street on Monday, January 25. The new 5,200-square-foot location will open with grab-and-go service, and replace Roosevelt Island’s former branch, a one-room library that, while beloved, could no longer serve the needs of the growing community. 

“As our resilient City enters a hopeful new year, the Library is proud to kick it off by giving Roosevelt Island the new library that they have long needed, wanted, and deserved,” said Anthony Marx, President of The New York Public Library. “It’s a new beginning for a community that for so long has loved and relied on its library, a trusted center of life where patrons access information and open doors of opportunity. We are eager to welcome our neighbors to their new space and support them as they continue to weather unprecedented challenges and work towards recovery and a brighter future.”

Designed by Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects and managed by the New York City Department of Design and Construction led by Commissioner Lorraine Grillo, the new $7.8 million library offers double the space of the former location, eventually offering the community a suite of expanded resources. The branch includes: 

  • A separate children’s area with glass doors and partition to uphold an outdoor feel;
  • A teen area;
  • A reading room for adults;
  • 16,000 books to browse;
  • 29 dedicated computer workstations or laptops for children, teens, or adults 
  • A community room for programming;
  • A landscaped entry area with an exterior book drop (which will not be accessible until the branch opens fully to the public);
  • Outdoor bench seating that will also serve as a local bus stop;
  •  An audio induction loop to help the hearing impaired

“We are very pleased to join with our partners at NYPL to provide a new, larger and environmentally friendly branch with space for community events plus children’s learning,” saidDDC Commissioner Lorraine Grillo“The DDC team worked diligently under very difficult circumstances created by the pandemic, but the final result is more than worth it.”

The branch—designed with community feedback as part of the Library’s “Building for You” engagement program—is located on the converted first floor of a former school and is fully ADA accessible. The design upholds standards for environmental sustainability, making use of ecological materials, including high-efficiency HVAC and other mechanical equipment. It will also incorporate automated LED lighting, low flow plumbing fixtures, and minimal levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

The new branch is the latest upgraded space the Library has opened: in 2019, the Library opened a new, larger Van Cortlandt Library in the Bronx, and in January 2020, it opened a new much-larger Macomb’s Bridge Library in Harlem. 

“We are so excited to welcome patrons to this beautiful, modern branch, which is much-anticipated and will allow us to best serve our community,” said Carlos Chavez, Library Manager of the Roosevelt Island branch. “It is exactly what our patrons need, and we look forward to opening the doors, turning the page, and getting to work.”

The Roosevelt Island Library has been serving the community for over 40 years, since its opening in 1976 under the leadership of Dorothy and Herman Reade. It joined The New York Public Library system in 1997 and has been a much-loved and well-used resource in the neighborhood.

The Library is thankful to Mayor Bill de Blasio, Speaker Corey Johnson, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Council Member Ben Kallos, NYS Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright, NYS Senator Jose Serrano, Former Speaker Gifford Miller, Former Council Member Jessica Lappin, Manhattan Community Board Eight and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp. for their support of this project.

“Seeing a huge project like this completed is what residents want and what my job is all about, ” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Roosevelt Islanders have always loved their public library and now they are going to love it even more. I am proud to have secured $1.7 million for this Roosevelt Island Library at its new location. The technology upgrades alone will make it a feature on the island that will be enjoyed by young families, seniors, and everyone in between. Thank you to the New York Public Library and its President,  Anthony Marx as well as to the New York City Department of Design and Construction for moving and working to get this done despite many obstacles faced in 2020.”

“I am proud to have supported the New York Public Library in our State budget and with the allocation of grants funding to support our local branches on Roosevelt Island and the Upper East Side. Now more than ever, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical that we preserve and enhance our public libraries which house vital literature and resources on their shelves, modern technology, and our librarians.  We are excited to start a new chapter with the expansive selection of books, tech-equipped workstations for all ages, and accessibility for the hearing impaired at our Roosevelt Island library,” said Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright. 

“For years, the Roosevelt Island Branch has been a cornerstone of this community, providing much-needed services and programming for both children and adults. I’m thrilled that today the library will expand its important role on the island by offering an enhanced experience for residents in this new modern, environmentally sustainable, and beautiful space,”said State Senator Jose Serrano.

“Roosevelt Island turns the page with the opening of a brand-new library branch,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “This facility, designed with community feedback and engagement, modern amenities and offerings, and available for grab-and-go service, is welcome news to this community.”

“Good things come to those who wait! This branch was just a glimmer in Roosevelt Island’s eye when I first ran for the City Council. I remember walking Main Street in 2004 with Mary Camper-Titisingh, one of the earliest and most ardent advocates for this project. She was just one of an active group of Islanders who dreamt of a beautiful branch like this. I am thrilled to have played a role in bringing us to this day and to know that generations to come will have access to the greatest gift of all: reading, growing, and borrowing books in this lovely space,” said former Council Member Jessica Lappin.  

“After years of anticipation, we’re thrilled to welcome this much-needed innovative and accessible library with its thoughtful services, bridging urban and modern designs,” said Shelton J. Haynes, Acting President & CEO of Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation. “We’re thankful for such a technologically advanced, spacious, and essential resource that will act as a place where our community can borrow adventure in a time when it’s most needed.”

As part of the Library’s continuing efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the new Roosevelt Island Library will operate as a grab-and-go location to start, open from 11 AM to 5 PM Monday through Saturday. Patrons can pick up and drop off materials reserved online or over the phone.  

At this time, New Yorkers:

  • Can access a small area of the open branches to pick up and return checkouts placed online or on the phone (the process will be contactless)
  • Must wear masks (this is mandatory, as per State guidelines)
  • Must physically distance from staff and other patrons
  • Must respect capacity limits inside the open locations 
  • Must leave the libraries as soon as their pickups or returns are complete; at this stage, there browsing, in-person reference, or computer use is not available.
  • Can continue to access programming, e-books, research databases, classes, and more virtually, via enhanced digital offerings that will remain in place; for the time being, in-person programs and classes will not
  • Can check out materials without accruing fines for the time being (fines will not accrue through June 2021)
  • Please note: all returned items will be quarantined for 96 hours before being recirculated, as per updated guidelines from public health authorities. 

To accommodate New Yorkers during this limited service phase, fines will not accrue on checked out items until at least June 2021. Additionally, while browsing is not currently allowed, the Library offers Shelf Help, a service that provides patrons with personalized packages of recommended books that can be picked up from their local grab-and-go branch. Patrons share their interests via phone, email, or in-branch paper form, and librarians curate a collection of five books. For full details on our grab-and-go service, reopening policies, current initiatives, and digital resources please visit our website.

Meanwhile, the Library will continue to offer a wide range of free, virtual programs and services for all New Yorkers, including e-books via the Library’s e-reader SimplyEdaily virtual storytimesat-home access to research databaseseducational resources for families, and more. Patrons can also manage their NYPL accounts, reserve materials, and use “self checkout” via the Library’s new mobile app

About The New York Public Library
For 125 years, The New York Public Library has been a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library receives approximately 16 million visits through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at www.nypl.org. To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at nypl.org/support.