Scholars who use the New York Public Library are boiling with frustration. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. In 2014 the library, under pressure from a coalition that included four senior scholars, abandoned its controversial Central Library Plan, which entailed gutting the stacks at the 42nd Street Library and selling the popular Mid-Manhattan Library across the street. But the situation hasn’t turned out how many critics had hoped.
How to make corks fit. How to adjust a door. How to extract a splinter. A surprisingly useful How to Do It series of mid-19th century cigarette trade cards, digitized by the New York Public Library.
The New York Public Library's Instagram feed (as discussed previously for its #ReviewsOnTues feature) is now serializing the librarians' latest find:
We found an old recipe box while cleaning out a desk, and it was labeled "Interesting Reference Questions," the contents of which ranged from total stumpers to funny mispronunciations.[more inside]
Check out the New York Public Library’s hilarious archive of librarians’ harsh children’s book reviews [more inside]
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
"This technology cannot simply substitute for the great libraries of the present. After all, libraries are not just repositories of books. They are communities, sources of expertise, and homes to lovingly compiled collections that amount to far more than the sum of their individual printed parts. Their physical spaces, especially in grand temples of learning like the NYPL, subtly influence the way that reading and writing takes place in them. And yet it is foolish to think that libraries can remain the same with the new technology on the scene. The Bookless Library, by David Bell (print ready version). [more inside]
John Cage Unbound, A Living Archive is a multimedia exhibition created by the New York Public Library documenting their collection of videos, original notes and manuscripts of contemporary American composer and music theorist John Cage (1912-1992). "Cage believed that, following his detailed directions, anyone could make music from any kind of instrument" so the NYPL is asking visitors how they would bring his music to life, by submitting videos of their own interpretations of Cage’s work for possible inclusion in the archive. For more extensive collections of John Cage resources, see: WNYC: A John Cage Web Reliquary and Josh Rosen's fan page. [more inside]
In 1783, John Jacob Astor set out for the United States with $25 and five flutes. Upon his death in 1848, he was the wealthiest person in the US, having amassed a fortune of at least $20,000,000, making him the third wealthiest person in American history (measuring wealth as a fraction of GDP). [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.
"What's on the menu?", the New York Public Library asks. Cincinnati Ham, Champagne Sauce. Baked Weakfish. Republican Punch. Cup of Beef Tea. [more inside]
"The New York Public Library launched a website Friday to introduce a massive, smartphone-based scavenger hunt that will officially kick off May 20 with an invitation-only, all-night lock-in in New York City. The game, which will continue through 2011, works by getting players to download an app for their iPhone or Android-based smartphones and then head to the library's Stephen A. Schwarzman building, which celebrates its centennial this year, to play (folks not near New York can play a digital version on the Web)."* [more inside]
Few books written in the 18th Century are better known or more read today than Candide, Voltaire's great satire of optimism. The New York Public Library's Candide exhibition has many delights, including Rockwell Kent's famous illustrations. Many other artists have illustrated Candide, and many of those images can be seen in the University Library of Trier's Candide image database. If your eyes are tired, you can also download an audiobook of Candide for free from LibriVox, or you can listen to a lecture on Candide [iTunes] by Stanford professor Martin Evans. Adam Gopnik explains how Candide fits in Voltaire's life and what it can teach us today. And don't miss this old post about Leonard Bernstein's Candide operetta.
Rock band reunions normally involve, at minimum, a little live music. But as The Velvet Underground are not your typical rock band, maybe none of us should have been surprised that the reunion of The Velvets at LIVE from the NYPL on Tuesday December 8th had none.
1969: The Year of Gay Liberation is an online exhibit of the New York Public Library focusing on the radical gay rights movements of the late sixties and early seventies, focusing on the organizations The Mattachine Society of New York, Daughters of Bilitis, Gay News, Gay Liberation Front, Radicalesbians, Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries and the Gay Activists Alliance, and the events of the Stonewall Riot and Christopher Street Liberation Day. This is but one part of the NYPL's fine LGBT collection, which includes, among other things, resources for teens, AIDS/HIV collections, and digital collections on ACT UP, Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen, Bessie Bonehill, Gertrude Stein, Gran Fury, Julian Eltinge, Richard Wandel and Walt Whitman.
In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience is organized around thirteen defining migrations that have formed and transformed African America and the nation. From The New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture [prev], more than 16,500 pages of text, 8,300 illustrations, and 60+ maps. [more inside]
Videos from the NYPL: watch curators and librarians "share their passion for the treasures of our remarkable collections." Take a tour through the extensive photos and prints collection, explore the archives of the 1939 New York World's Fair, do some menu and cookbook research with Lidia Bastianich, see original manuscripts from the Jack Kerouac Archive, and much more. "Travel the Spuyten Duyvil Creek in 1777, hear music recorded 100 years ago on wax cylinders, marvel at rare 1920s Japanese comics and other pop ephemera..." This is just one part of the extensive digital offerings made available by the library (disclaimer: some resources require an NYPL card). You can also subscribe to the video series via iTunes (link will open iTunes).
Libraries are neat. The New York Public Library has uploaded a collection of menus dating from 1851 to 1956 thanks largely to the efforts of collector Miss Frank E. Buttolph, a "mysterious and passionate figure whose mission in life was to collect menus" and whose unique collection aroused the interest of the NYT of her day (1, 2).
There You Go Again: Orwell Comes to America is a conference hosted by The New York Public Library on the past and present of propaganda. Dozens of speakers and hours of enlightening video. Panelists include luminary academics, journalists and George Soros, who along with the Open Society Institute, is sponsoring the event. (Previously)
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.