In praise of the New York Public Library

NEW YORK, N.Y.–Nothing to do with television, but can I give a shout out to the New York Public Library? This block-long card catalogue cathedral with the giant marble lions out front is celebrating its 100th year just a few blocks from Times Square in Manhattan.
I had the good fortune to enjoy elegant Bryant Park, which extends West from the Library, last summer in New York and found it one of the most civilized corners of the city. HBO/Bank of America is still hosting free movies to audiences who get there early enough to find a chair or a patch of the enormous lawn every Monday night throughout the summer.
The Library’s massive Beaux-Arts building has the added advantage on a crushingly hot July day of being supremely air conditioned. I’m talking meat locker cold, inside the Sullivan Theater chilly.
Plus, free WiFi (take that, Manhattan hotels, charging up to $24.95 a day to get on-line) as well as table top plug ins in the massive main library space up on the third floor. Look WAY up and enjoy the cloud mural on the impressive and ornate wooden ceiling. This place is heaven on a hot day.

Plus very open to the public. You don’t even need a library card to take advantage of the space. You just need curiosity, according to the web site, which includes this history.
A friend in New York suggested it was often a refuge for the homeless during times of extreme weather. I witnessed this first hand Wednesday as a fellow wandered in, found a book and sat down in front of me at one of the large wooden tables. He skilfully slipped into stealth library sleep.
One of the guards, who seemed to recognize the dude, gently nudged and asked if he was okay. And that was it. No eviction.
Me, I got a couple of stories done and was not thrown out either. There are exhibits down on the main floor featuring museum-like artifacts from the library’s collection. Guided tours of the book palace are also available throughout the day. It would appear that they even rent the place out for parties at night, with book elves setting up a party makeover as I was exiting Wednesday night. Hell of a place.

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