espite another reduction in City funding and other financial constraints, the Library performed exceedingly well during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2011. Circulation increased 15 percent and digital visits increased 23 percent over the prior fiscal year, reflecting both the Library’s efforts to make its content more relevant and accessible to users, and the increased needs of the public during difficult economic times. Declines in public funding of nearly $6 million — and the resulting belt-tightening — caused the Library to slightly reduce the hours it was open to the public. This 1 percent reduction in open hours is the primary reason total visits to the library also declined slightly (by less than half of 1 percent), even while circulation and digital use boomed.
The Library’s financial condition remained sound because it maintained a balanced operating budget and because its endowment recovered significantly. The endowment’s market value increased from $670 million at the end of fiscal 2010 to $814 million at the end of fiscal 2011, reflecting investment results that place the Library among the very best performing endowments in the country. The Library’s capital position was also bolstered by a series of events that bring The New York Public Library closer to realizing a new consolidated central library in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. Sales of two major buildings closed in July and August 2011 and generated total proceeds of more than $100 million. In addition, the Library signed a contract to sell part of another property for more than $60 million. Finally, the City has now committed more than $150 million toward the new central library, thus giving the Library the financial wherewithal to move forward in planning this exciting project.
In addition to planning for the new central library, NYPL is exploring a variety of major new initiatives with particular emphasis on buttressing its role of supporting the City school system and continuing to lead the way for libraries in the digital age. The Library staff is very excited by these initiatives — all of which are fitting for one of the leading civic institutions of New York City.
David G. Offensend