Wednesday, December 18, 2013
It is a Library, With Two marble lions mark the entrance to this Beaux Arts masterpiece
National Historic Landmark, containing more than six million books.
Rev: "Awesome place. The printed word deserves a home like this. Magnificent architecture and art pay tribute to man's greatest invention. Wonderful bookstore/gift shop, too."
Rev: "I love to take visitors to the main library at 42nd & Fifth because the exhibits are always interesting -- and free! The building itself is a marvel of old classic concepts of libraries, education, and learning. The Children's Book exhibit was beautifully done."
Rev: "The New York Public Library is the place to discover everything! Want to find Pooh Bear ... go inside! Want to see one of the most extensive collections of Dickens? Enter the front doors! The NY Public Library is guarded by wonderful lions that our children have loved forever. Go in and find your own set of lions in the gift shop. Stay in and look through the permanent collections ... see what is new too! Fabulous-one-of-a-kind adventure awaits you! Don't miss it on your next trip to Manhattan!"
They emphasized expertise, objectivity and a very broad world-wide range of knowledge in acquiring, preserving, organizing, and making available to the general population nearly 12 million books and 26.5 million additional items. The directors in turn reported to an elite board of trustees, chiefly elderly, well-educated, philanthropic, predominantly Protestant, upper-class white men with commanding positions in American society. They saw their role as protecting the library's autonomy from politicians as well as bestowing upon it status, resources, and prudent care.
Rev: "This building looks like a museum from the outside and certainly has some amazing architecture inside too. Staff are helpful and there are good directions inside to the areas you may need. We didn't spend long inside because you could easily lose a whole day in here and we didn't have the time. Worth a visit, however brief, just for the vastness of books and space."
For example, the Map Division's chief Walter Ristow became head of the geography section of the War Department's New York Office of Military Intelligence from 1942 to 1945. Ristow and his staff discovered copied and loaned thousands of strategic, rare or unique maps to war agencies in need of information not available through other sources.
Rev: "one of my favorite quiet spots indoors. It is not just the volumes there. One can spend hours just staring at the architecture. If you have children, the Children's library is a must, we well."
Following a competition among the city's most prominent architects, Carrère and Hastings was selected to design and construct the building. The cornerstone was laid in May 1902, and the building's completion was expected to be in three years. In 1910, 75 miles of shelves were installed, and it took a year to move and install the books that were in the Astor and Lenox libraries.
Rev: "One of the places to visit that is a must. Check out the ceilings and lighting they take your breath away. Strangely enough although probably the most famous library on the planet you can't check a book out but you can sit and read in such beautiful surroundings."
Rev: "I couldn't go to New York without seeing the library. Amazing. You need to see it, the building is a beauty. I could have sat in there all day but it was our last day so it was a quick visit.....well worth a look."
The building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965. Over the decades, the library system added branch libraries, and the research collection expanded until, by the 1970s, it was clear the collection eventually would outgrow the existing structure. In the 1980s the central research library added more than 125,000 square feet of space and literally miles of bookshelf space to its already vast storage capacity to make room for future acquisitions. This expansion required a major construction project in which Bryant Park, directly west of the library, was closed to the public and excavated. The new library facilities were built below ground level and the park was restored above it.
Rev: "Definitely a place to see in New York. Such a beautiful library, but you must remember, it's still a library and you shouldn't walk around speaking so loudly. People still go there to do there work. A gorgeous place to see."
Rev: "The building is facinating inside-out. The furniture and old lightings are amazing. For tourists, it's a nice place to take a break, sitting down at one of the desks staring at the beautiful ceiling after hours of shopping on the 5th! And it's got the best free wifi in NYC!"
Rev: "Book lovers will be delighted with the Library. The building is beside the lovely Bryant Park and both the exterior and interior are worth a closer look. But it is the shelves and shelves of books in a historic setting that are the highlight. When I was there, it was thanksgiving and a first edition of a Christmas Carol was on display, with handwritten notes by Charles Dickens in the margins. Brilliant."
Rev: "The NY Public Library is one of the gems of NYC. Of course you want to see the famous stone lions outside, and visit Bryant Park next door. In summer, it's a great place to sit and picnic. In winter, you can skate there, visit the holiday market stalls and people watch. Inside the library they always have wonderful exhibits-- and they're always free. We loved the exhibit on the History of Lunch, complete with old automat equipment. I've seen great exhibits on Blake, on Charles Dickens...Now there's a special show on children's books, also worth a visit. They even have a sweet little gift shop."
Unlike most other libraries, such as the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library was not created by government statute. From the earliest days of the New York Public Library, a tradition of partnership of city government with private philanthropy began, which continues to this day. As of 2010, the research libraries in the system are largely funded with private money, and the branch or circulating libraries are financed primarily with city government funds.