The New York Public Library
06 September 2012
I have found myself watching a lot of documentaries lately, and The People's Palace, A Portrait of the New York Public Library, has really stayed with me.
Here is a link to the documentary: http://www.nypl.org/audiovideo/peoples-palace
It offers a behind the scenes look at one of the most revered public libraries in the world. It speaks of the challenges of running such an all-encompassing library, and other interesting aspects of librarihood that I would not have otherwise thought about. The most interesting part to me, though, was the history of the library. How the library was designed, on the site of an old reservior (in the middle of New York City!), and how every inch of the library experience was so carefully crafted. The architecture firm was responsible not only for the building, but also for the detail in the chairs and the lamps on the tables.
Another interesting tidbit...the library was modeled after other major world libraries at the time. However, Paris, Rome, London, etc., all had stacks full of their own nation's history. The United States, being just over 100 years old at the time, had relatively little to fill the shelves. So the NYPL decided to collect works from around the world. They also set to catalogueing and maintaining records/books/artwork/pamphlets/posters/music/etc. in such detail, that they are a premier institution for research in almost any area you can think of. They no longer have empty shelves, but they do have one of the largest collections in the world!
I cannot wait to visit the main library someday. They still use the same pnuematic tubes to shuttle book requests back to the stacks that they used when the building opened in the early 1900's. You then go to a special waiting area for your book to be brought up. Something about that just seems a little magical to me. This is no ordinary suburban library. Oh what book shall I request? It must be something worthy!
As wonderful as the actual original library seems, they also have an amazing online collection that is available to the general public. You can view so many of their collections, including manuscripts, rare books, maps, etc., online here: http://www.nypl.org/research-collections. And I love their online Wallach Collection of Photographs and Prints. There is so much to see and explore and learn here. Oh, please do click on the links, you won't be disappointed!
As I have previously stated, I do not receive any compensation for anything mentioned on this website. In asking you to click the links, I receive no benefit, I just really do believe that you will receive benefit from browsing through the treasure trove.