In May of 2014, a foot-wide piece of plaster (one of the rosettes) fell from the ceiling of the NYPL's gorgeous Rose Reading Room. The NYPL immediately closed the room, and it remains closed today.
The last we heard, the room's reopening date was still uncertain as it underwent inspection, and now the NYPL has issued a new update stating repairs will keep the Rose Main Reading Room and Bill Blass Public Catalog Room closed until Spring of 2016 and 2017, respectively. On top of the structural concerns regarding the ceiling, asbestos has also been discovered in an attic (which is closed off to the public and staff).
The Library recently received a preliminary analysis from this inspection, which is positive overall. The ceilings of these two iconic rooms are in strong shape and there are no fundamental structural problems to address. There is, however, some necessary work to be done to address some cracking in the ceiling façades, and to further secure the ceiling rosettes - which are issues common to buildings of this age and design. Related, as described in prior updates, the Library discovered asbestos in a closed attic above the Rose Main Reading Room. Asbestos is commonly found in many older buildings in New York. While we have since removed that asbestos, an examination of the ceiling of the McGraw Rotunda revealed asbestos above the ceiling in an area not accessible to the public or staff, the removal of which is in progress.
The Library will begin to move forward on all of the above work immediately. To be sure, safety and preservation of this historic space are our highest priorities. This work is highly complicated and takes great care—the high ceiling height required enormous scaffolding and the fine detail of the rosettes require expert craftsmanship. We expect to open the Bill Blass Public Catalog Room by fall 2016, followed by the Rose Main Reading Room in early 2017.
The Library continues to thank its users for their patience. We regret any inconvenience and are working to reopen the Rose Main Reading Room and the Bill Blass Public Catalog Room as quickly as possible.
Currently, all services you would have normally found in these rooms can be accessed on the second floor corridor of the 42nd Street Library. Get well soon, Reading Room.