Newark Public Library has released preliminary renderings of its new Philip Roth Reading Room, which will house the Pulitzer Prize laureate’s personal book collection. Designed by Ann Beha Architects, the dedicated reading room will feature study and conservation areas, expanded seating, and spaces for small groups.
When complete, the reading room will house around 7,000 individual volumes that were gifted to the library through Roth’s will following his passing in 2018. Roth also arranged to give at least $2 million of his estimated $10 million estate to the public library. Because these funds can only be used for the purchase of new books and library materials, the Newark Public Library is currently raising funds to finance construction of the new reading room.
“Creation of the Philip Roth Personal library has been a dream since Mr. Roth bequeathed his collection to us nearly five years ago,” said Joslyn Bowling Dixon, director of the Newark Public Library. “His books and personal items are priceless, and we knew the room had to preserve them [in] perpetuity.”
As part of a larger effort to renovate the building, the library has also commissioned new MEP and fire protection systems, extensive temperature and humidity controls to protect the new collection, and a new heating and cooling system in Centennial Hall, the building’s monumental oak paneled lecture hall and event space.
“It is an honor to be part of this project, one that is creating a living tribute to a great American author whose Newark roots are profound,” said David Margolius, executive vice president of Shawmut Design and Construction, the project’s construction manager. “While it’s a unique responsibility to work on a building that is over a century old, our team is leveraging their expertise to ensure the upgrades and renovations will enable this landmark to serve the community for generations to come.”
Last November, Shawmut and Soho House donated 200 pieces of office furniture that will be used throughout the space and branch libraries.
The new reading room is expected to debut by 2021.