The Chatham Square Branch opened in 1903 at 33 East Broadway, replacing a branch of the New York Free Circulating Library that had served the neighborhood for four years. The building, designed by the distinguished New York architectural firm McKim, Mead and White, features a handsome facade. It was the second library to be constructed with funds from Andrew Carnegie. From its earliest days, the branch has always been an integral part of the Chinese neighborhood it serves. Today, it acts as a cultural and civic center for a community of avid readers and is one of the busiest libraries in the city. A complete renovation with remodeled interior was completed in 2001 as part of the Library's Adopt-a-Branch program. Highlights include restoration of historic detail, a new elevator, air conditioning, and a high-speed telecommunications system for 24 computer workstations.
The first floor, with the original floor to ceiling windows and striking wood details, holds the adult, young adult, and reference collections. The second floor is devoted to the children's collection, with cheerful, pint-sized furnishings. The third floor contains a bright, spacious community room as well as an all new children's story room. The lower level contains the Chinese Heritage Collection, a unique repository of books, reports, documents, videos and other materials in English and Chinese.