Sunday, March 10, 2013

New York Public Library

The New York Public Library at 42nd Street on a Sunday afternoon. I went to M & J Trim, which is just down the street, so decided to make a slight detour afterwards. What an amazing building. Too bad I couldn't go in, since it was closing time- the library being open for visitors to the exhibition space on the weekend. I did catch everyone leaving however, and a man quietly sleeping in a corner, as well as a harbinger of things to come in a sign. You see, the library is planning to renovate the place, not unlike carving out the inner core of an apple, replacing it with an atrium. Needless to say, I am not a fan of the plan. Much written about, it re-envisions a world where everything is online and the library is a mere portal. For the ardent researcher however, the plan is a death-knell. My thought is this: if it isn't broken, don't fix it. The future is in the past. If you don't have access to it, it is bound to repeat itself.

Dinky iPhone with CameraBag App and Magazine setting. 


  1. I am so glad you remarked on the Foster scheme, a heartbreak from the playbook of Lincoln Center. How horrifying, however, that abundant private wealth will be responsible for such extreme custodial iconoclasm. Of course these are marvelous pictures and may prove to be necessities.

    1. Horrid design, gutting the heart of the library. I've done a fair amount of research there. Books still get to you within 15-20 minutes. Under the current plan, most of them would be housed in New Jersey. The hopes that everything is going to be online is a fantasy. Congress is in no hurry to deal with the matter, and even if they do, it is hubris to think everything will be accessible digitally. This is a plan devised by a board with little understanding of the institution it serves. It is ego-based, rather than informed. I lived through the renovation of the library at Lincoln Center. There are some good things about it, and some not good things, one of the latter being - again- a lot of material being moved to New Jersey. For those of us who do real research (not just trolling the internet), this is frustrating and annoying. What used to take 20 minutes to see, now takes 3-5 days, perhaps even longer.


I welcome your comments.