The main branch of the Buffalo & Erie County Central Libary is a cavernous building of some 400,000 square feet spread over six levels, but the vast majority of the structure is not open to the public. In recent years, the library began reducing its inventory holding costs, as it adapts to digital technologies. This has made an ample amount of new space available inside the building, which goes unused.
The building’s entrance-level includes reading, exhibit, children’s and cafe spaces that are open to the public, along with a large auditorium in the basement. The Library’s manuscript collection, including Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Fin, is on display in an exhibit room on the main level.
Civic activists have been calling on the Library to acquire and relocate the Buffalo History Museum’s collection into yet-to-be renovated exhibit spaces on Central Library’s unused floors (each level is some 70,000 square feet of space). The History Museum’s current home in the Panamerican Exposition Building on Nottingham Terrace accommodates only about 30,000 square feet of exhibit space and lacks an auditorium, a significant constraint on the institution’s programming capacity.
Activists contend that a merger of the two institutions will make both stronger by bringing each’s expertise under one roof and allow for a sharing of resources. Being able to sync exhibitions of historic artifacts with the library’s mission of public education will provide a better — and ultimately more appreciated — service to the community.
The plan would achieve cost savings on utility, administration, and facility costs.
The Albright Knox is planning an aggressive expansion at its Delaware Park campus and would be quick to repurpose the Panamerican Exposition Building, either for special exhibits or to house its permanent collection.