New York

The Secret Soul Of New York’s Libraries

By Andrej Mrevlje |
Photo Andrej Mrevlje

Who does not like to sit in a quiet library in the middle of the city that never sleeps? Here in New York, I’ve joined a few libraries, public and private, primarily to find a refuge for work, rather than to borrow books or other material. A lot of people are using them this way: to read or write,away from your computer and to escape the confines of a small N.Y. apartment Libraries in New York welcome that.

But if you want to actually borrow a book, it’s now a good deal more complicated – and that has to do with the computerization and systemization of many of these precious institutions: If you need something from the New York Public Library, for instance, you’d better do it from home through the online catalogue in order to make sure that the book is there and ready before you reach one of these quiet cathedrals in the busy city. If the book or any material you may borrow is recent, then it is likely that it will come from a shared technical services center of the New York and Brooklyn Public Library systems, home to the world’s second largest automated sorter of library materials. BookOps, as the center is known, is located in Long Island City, and replaces what used the traditional storage room of single libraries. Libraries are no longer single buildings, but nodes in vast library systems.

Currently, the wealth of our libraries’ resources and services could never be contained within their walls.

If our branch libraries were reconstructed to accommodate the entire material and digital collection their patrons can access, each local Carnegie library would rival the size of the massive Starrett-Lehigh building

It is fascinating story. Read it here.

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