New York City has 207 branch libraries across the five boroughs, and their average age is 61 years old. And that's the average; at least 52 branches are old enough to remember World War I. While everyone loves a nice historical building, many of these libraries unfortunately act their age. In September, the Center for an Urban Future estimated that New York's branches need $1.1 billion just to achieve a state of good repair.
The CUF reports describes the situation as being "on the verge of a maintenance crisis." It's not just that the libraries are crumbling—though many do suffer poor ventilation, lack of light, water leaks, and heating or cooling malfunctions. It's also that they're ill-equipped for modern life. Many lack sufficient power outlets for laptops (the McKinley Park branch in Brooklyn, for instance, has no place to plug-in at all) or activity space for community events or continuing education programs.