Tag Archives: NYPL

Books vs. the Rich: the Protest at NYPL on Monday

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The protest on the steps of NYPL’s main branch at 42nd Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan.

On Monday at noon, a bunch of people dressed up as books were told by another bunch of people dressed up in fancy clothing to get out of the library. The books fought back and refused to leave the library. A debate ensued between the books and the rich, who were trying to get the books to realize that no one needs libraries because no one reads books, and that the libraries could be sold to developers. This was the entire point of the protest: NYPL had been sold down the river by the rich serving on its Board of Trustees

NYPL is currently relocating a large chunk of it’s main branch research collection to New Jersey, where the library shares a storage facility with NYU and Princeton. The idea is to create a “library of the future” by remodeling areas and folding into the main branch the Mid-Manhattan Library, which is a very popular (and busy) branch library across the street. They also intend to sell that building as well as the part of the old Altman’s department store that currently houses NYPL’s Science, Industry, and Business Library (SIBL), the collection also being folded into the main branch.

The main branch has a major research collection known throughout the world. The relocating of materials to storage to make room for the popular library and SIBL (also used by quite a number of people), which is also a research library, as well as redesign former book shelving areas to create new patron areas, has many people alarmed.

From the beginning, NYPL botched the unveiling of the new plans, which were presented as an accomplished fact without any public input. This went over like a lead balloon and galvanized people to preserve the Mid-Manhattan Library, SIBL and the research collection at the main branch.

Promoted on Facebook, this protest was a success in that it garnered quite a bit of attention from passersby as well as a few media outlets that showed up to get their five second sound bite. Rumors circulate that NYPL is now an organization of fear, where librarians and staff are terrorized by the administration to stay silent on what is going on.

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Holidays at the New York Public Library

Though NYPL is embroiled in a controversy to “remake” the main building at Fifth Avenue  and 42nd Street in Manhattan into a “library of the future,” the building is spruced up (as usual) for the end of the year festivities.

The entrance from Fifth Avenue brings the visitor into Astor Hall, which is made out of marble and truly is a grand entrance. The tree is beautiful. Though Hanukkah is over, the menorah was completely lit when I visited.

Perhaps the most ridiculous thing are the wreaths around the necks of the famous lions outside the library. The wreaths are far too big, and the lions literally get lost in them. A much smaller wreath around the necks of the lions would look so much better. Perhaps the wreaths (and bows) are so big to make it harder for someone to steal. After all, what would one do with such big wreaths?

Then again, just a little bigger and those wreaths could probably fit comfortably around Lady Liberty’s neck.

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Filed under Holidays, Libraries, New York City