Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Hayden, Marx in Conversation at NYPL

Public Libraries

By on November 8, 2016

Carla Hayden and Tony Marx in conversation at NYPL
Photo credit: Chasi Annexy/The New York Public Library

On Halloween night, Friends and trustees of New York Public Library (NYPL) got a treat that didn’t require a costume: Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden and NYPL President Tony Marx sat down together for a lively hour-long discussion of research, preservation, digitization, Hayden’s plans for the Library of Congress (LC), and the influence of Hamilton. The conversation was the first in a series of public programs over the next year highlighting the importance of archival research.

The event was held as part of the celebration of the reopening of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building’s Rose Main Reading Room and Bill Blass Public Catalog Room. These had been closed since May 2014, when a plaster rosette fell from the Reading Room’s 52-foot ceiling in the middle of the night. After an inspection, the ceiling was deemed structurally sound, but NYPL decided to err on the side of caution and reinforce all of the decorative rosettes bordering the ceiling with steel cables, and at the same time to restore the mural on the ceiling of the Bill Blass room. The spaces reopened in October 2016 with a celebratory ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Sitting at the front of the Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III Trustees Room—hung with what Marx called “incredibly politically incorrect 400-year-old tapestries”—the two bantered briefly and then got down to business. “Why libraries?” asked Marx.

Hayden described her experiences with public libraries as a young patron and then a librarian, and her dawning realization of what sanctuaries they were for their constituents. Plus, she told Marx, “In the ’70s, when I was a baby librarian, what attracted me was the idea of information as power.”  Read more...

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Outrage in Bronx as Barnes & Noble Is Set to Close

Books & Bookstores


Shauna Rose and her son, Nicholai, 4, visited the children’s section of the Barnes & Noble in the Bronx on Wednesday. She says they go there every day after school and read the picture book “I Need My Monster.” Credit Amir Levy for The New York Times

Every day after school, 4-year-old Nicholai Rose demands that his mother take him first to the park then to the Barnes & Noble in the Baychester neighborhood of the Bronx. There, they snuggle in a corner in the children’s section and, each time, read “I Need My Monster,” his favorite picture book.
In a few months their ritual will end — permanently — when the store closes for good, leaving the Bronx, a borough with nearly 1.5 million people, without one general-interest bookstore. For residents, the closing carries a painful sting the borough knows too well, of being long underserved and overlooked, which persists even as the Bronx is experiencing a renaissance.

“How am I going to tell him that the bookstore is going?” said Nicholai’s mother, Shauna Rose, 29, as she sat in the store on Wednesday, the monster book on her lap. “And there’s nothing else.”

With 50,000 titles in its inventory, the Barnes & Noble opened in the Bronx in 1999. Two years ago, it nearly closed after the landlord sought to raise the rent. But it remained open after a public outcry, and after elected officials stepped in to assist in the rent negotiations. It has withstood the economic crunch that shut down smaller bookshops in the borough over the years. While there are a few bookstores in the Bronx attached to various universities and some stores that sell religious texts, the Barnes & Noble remains the last of its kind, until it closes in January, because of a rent increase. It will replaced by a Saks Off 5th store. Read more...