The New York Society Library maintains an elegant online database of its circulation records from 1789 to 1805, a period that includes its stint as the first library of the United States Congress. To help you get a handle on the data trove (assembled from 100,000 records tracking every book that every patron checked out), the Library offers visualization tools and two curated lists of interesting readers: 57 representative women and 40 Founding Fathers.
The New York Public Library has released more than 20,000 high resolution cartographic works (maps!) for free, to view and download. "We believe these maps have no known US copyright restrictions." All can be viewed through the New York Public Library’s Digital Collections page and downloaded through their Map Warper. (Via) [more inside]
No one expected the force of the tempest that hit the New York Public Library in late 2011—not its new president, Anthony Marx, and maybe not even the literary lions up in arms over plans for an ambitious, $300 million renovation. Will the “palace of culture” on Fifth Avenue become a glorified Starbucks, as some fear? Interviewing all sides, Paul Goldberger walks the controversy back to its flash point: the nature of the library’s 21st-century mission and the values at the center of the Norman Foster–designed project. - Paul Goldberger, Firestorm on Fifth Avenue
Did P.T. Barnum keep live whales in his museum on Broadway? When were penguins stolen from the Coney Island Aquarium? How much horse manure was deposited on the streets of New York City before the automobile, and what happened to it? Answers to these question and more at the New York Historical Society Library's short video series When did the Statue of Liberty Turn Green? [more inside]
Upheaval at the New York Public Library: an article in The Nation which looks at the current state of the NYPL, and highlights many of the problems facing public libraries across the United States.
Making use of the space left between short shelves and high ceilings, Pentagram worked with some artists to make some fantastic murals in New York City elementary school libraries.
In the long stretch of culinary history, the creation of the menu was a notable development. In the U.S., New York is the restaurant capital, and the New York Public Library has an enormous collection of menus, many of which they are currently displaying in a third-floor gallery. If you're in NYC (or will be visiting this winter) and are interested in such things, don't miss it; it's showing until March 1.