Chatham Square Library has been an integral part of the Chinatown neighborhood since its earliest days, with a circulating Chinese language collection available since 1911. Chatham Square opened in 1903, replacing a branch of the New York Free Circulating Library that had served the neighborhood for four years. The library was designed by New York architectural firm McKim, Mead and White, and was the second branch after Yorkville to be constructed with funds from Carnegie’s 1901 gift to the city of New York.
A complete renovation with remodeled interior was done in 2001 as part of the Library’s Adopt-a-Branch program. The first floor, with the original floor-to-ceiling windows and striking wood details, holds the adult and young adult collections. The second floor is devoted to the children’s collection. The third floor contains a bright, spacious community room and a children’s story-hour room. The lower level contains the Chinese Heritage Collection, a unique collection of materials in English and Chinese. The Chatham Square Library is one of the busiest branches of The New York Public Library and our annual Summer Reading Celebration is legendary, drawing hundreds of children to the community room each August.