Monthly Archives: June 2015

More Woes for NYPL

Stitched Panorama

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an interesting article by Scott Sherman on what is going on at the 42nd Street main library of the New York Public Library.

This library, also know as the Humanities and Social Sciences Library, was renamed the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building after one of the Board of Trustees who donated millions to the library. Like most New Yorkers, I still call it by its two former names.

The comment on 21 volumes of a title that is now missing in a closed stack library is interesting. Closed stacks are when library personnel need to retrieve materials for the patron. Most of Europe’s libraries are closed stacks. Most U.S. libraries allow patrons to walk in and retrieve the materials for themselves, unless it is a special collection or archival material, in which case these collections are closed stack.

If this was a title that was sent off-site and then brought back, it sounds as if the movers that were used were not professionals in moving library collections. These specialized movers know that library collections are in a certain order and they preserve that order when they move them. I know of  a college library where the library was remodeled. They hired bargain-basement movers who, once they filled up the shelving, started back at the beginning and filled up those shelves until all the books were shelved, thereby destroying the classification order of half the books. It took the college library YEARS to get their collection back in order.

However, it seems that the stacks that were emptied for the renovation still remain empty; the books are still in the off-site facility. As Sherman suggests, is this revenge on those who stopped the renovation? A colleague of mine at New York University who is an expert in his field went to NYPL when they first started moving the collection from the building. Of the nineteen titles he said were basic texts needed for his subject, eleven or twelve were off in storage. Needless to say, he was not impressed with the selector.

Sherman’s remarks about the trustees being devoted to the special collections but ambivalent to making these materials available to researchers says quite a bit. The rich collect manuscripts and pieces of art to show off–what? How rich they are, how cultured, how sophisticated, etc. This sounds like how the trustees are treating these materials. Look but don’t touch. Even in the Roman Republic and Empire, private libraries were made available to patrons of affluent patricians. In this case, the materials are in what is supposed to be a public library–funded with government dollars. Even the Roman patricians understood research. They don’t in this country, apparently.

People like this have been slowly draining this country for over four decades; I see no relief in sight.



Filed under Libraries, New York City

Ethan Allen’s Birthplace

(2015-05-10 003)I went on a Sunday drive not too long ago with my friend Lucye. We went up into Connecticut to Litchfield and thereabouts.

There are some very beautiful houses in the area. The area is steeped in history. Lucye pulled up to a modern-looking house. On the front of it was a sign. This is where Ethan Allen was born.

(2015-05-10 002)Long before he ended up in Vermont, Allan grew up in Connecticut on what was then the frontier. He was first a farmer and, later, bought an iron foundry before leaving the state and becoming involved in the Revolutionary War.

The house looks good for being over 250 years old. Anyone want to guess which part is the addition?


Filed under History

A Find in the NYPL Archives

(2015-05-14 001)It’s always interesting what you can find when doing archival research.

When I was at the New York Public Library (the main one) doing research for my term paper. I was going through the John Shaw Billings papers when I came across a small envelope, inside which was a ribbon with the word “Usher.” Here, someone had donated their ribbon from being an usher at the laying (2015-05-14 002)of the corner stone of the New York Public Library (the main building) in 1902.

I just had to take a photo of it. Here’s a link to the past, from someone long dead. This is what makes research interesting, finding physical pieces linking the present with the past.

Leave a comment

Filed under History, New York City

Cute Food

(2015-05-09 001)First of all, I am not someone who sits and takes pictures of his/her food. This is insane, unless the blog subject is food.

That being said, I had dinner at Sushi Thai-Asian Fusion in Tarrytown and decided on dessert. Yes, it was a bad move from a diet perspective. (I sometimes make these bad decisions.) When I saw the bear made from a scoop of chocolate ice-cream, I went for it.  (It was cute.) I liked it, but it didn’t really help my mood–or waistline.

1 Comment

Filed under Tarrytown

Danger on Madison Avenue: Addendum

As these photographs show, the sidewalk in front of the damaged building and across the street are now covered with those ugly, faux “colonnades.” You can see that the building still has not been repaired.

Oh, and the front on the building at street level? It’s brand new, not even two years old. The holding company redid the entire front of the building on Madison and the cross-street.

Leave a comment

Filed under New York City, Uncategorized

Danger on Madison Avenue

(2015-06-01 003)Coming into work late, I was dismayed to find a block of Madison Avenue closed off. Why quickly became apparent. Pieces of a building were falling off.

Of course people were stopping to take photos with their phones–typical tourista–so I did what I normally do: I took out my camera and took photos.

(2015-06-01 002)You can see those temporary metal struts on the sidewalk in the first picture. These things are all over Manhattan around buildings. They go up and down. I cannot tell you how many times these things are erected around one building only to be taken down months or even years later–only to pop up around yet another building. They constrict human traffic flow, and create obstacles on the already-tiny sidewalks. However, in this case these temporary “colonnades” are needed, if for no other reason than to protect the walking population.

(2015-06-01 001)This isn’t the first time I’ve seen something like this happen. The facades of buildings have come loose in the past and have tumbled down onto the sidewalks below. Today was extremely windy, with rain. Yesterday and today have been rainy. With climate change, the once a year or so bad storms are now coming more frequently, and things like this, I am sorry to say, are going to be happening more and more.

I do hope that the buildings being put up within the last 5 years are more resistant to high winds. Of course, this doesn’t solve the problem of the older buildings and their decaying facades.

Just walking out your front door can be dangerous–something which the majority of us take for granted.


1 Comment

Filed under New York City, Uncategorized