Librarian Naomi Niles described the Nolen library as a “jewel box”. The library is certainly small and beautiful. The rooms are wonderfully open with large glass windows on two sides. The bannisters and shelving gleam with light gold wood. It even smells new.
The open form of the library space reflects the openness of the library’s policies. The Nolen Library is the only one of the Met’s many department libraries which has open stacks. Anyone can come in and use the wi-fi, books, scanners and study space, even without paying admission to the Metropolitan Museum. The Thomas J. Watson library is open to any adult patron, but the books have to be paged, and children are discouraged. Nolen has a children’s space with picture books and storytime events. Computer terminals at a child’s height, give access to whitelisted sites such as National Geographic.
The subjects collected by the library are equally wide, stretching from gardening to history. Naomi Niles says the library collects anything that would help a patron understanding of art, which, of course, includes many topics. A large collection of art documentary tapes and DVDs cover the walls of a meeting space at the back of the library, and Nolen even has a small, but beautiful graphic novels section.
The library is staffed by a group of fifteen librarians who rotate between Watson and Nolen with occasional stops at the department libraries. Ms. Niles herself, started as an intern 20 years ago. She said at first she could not imagine living in New York City for more than a few years, but here she still is and she loves the Met.
Ms. Niles encouraged librarians to use the Metropolitan Museum’s online research materials, including teachers resources, and images. Metmedia is a great collection of interactive, audio and video resources about the collections. The Met is also scanning all of its publications from around 1900 to the present.
If you feel like dropping by, the Nolen library is located in the Ruth and Harold D. Uris Education Center on the ground floor of the Metropolitan Museum. The ground floor is one floor down from the lobby. You can enter the Education Center from an entrance at 81st street, or you can take an elevator down from the Greek and Roman wing. Nolen library is open 9:30-5pm Tuesday through Friday and 10-5pm on the weekends.