"Meet Matthew Zadrozny. He loves the New York Public Library."
February 27, 2014 2:58 PM   Subscribe

Librarian and library activist eats chicken outside a New York library. Agrees to be photographed, in return for the dissemination of his message...

"I work at this library. And before that, I was coming here for twenty years. It's my favorite place in the world. As many people know, the main reading room of this library is supported by seven floors of books, which contain one of the greatest research collections in the world.

Recently, the library administration has decided to rip out this collection, send the books to New Jersey, and use the space for a lending library. As part of the consolidation, they are going to close down the Mid-Manhattan Library Branch as well as the Science, Industry, and Business Library.

When everything is finished, one of the greatest research libraries in the world will become a glorified internet cafe. Now read that back to me."

Side-points: Matthew tweets. And fans of Seinfeld may like this comment on the Facebook post.
posted by Wordshore (10 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Posters request -- restless_nomad

It's important to note that while he may be one of many scholars who works at this library, he doesn't work for this library.
posted by Toekneesan at 3:09 PM on February 27, 2014

It's completely buried in the article, but NYPL did respond to Humans of New York, who posted it here. The text:
Because of all the attention of this morning's library post, I thought it'd only be fair to post the NYPL's response. I'm quoting four points that they've asked me to clarify:

*The man says "I work at this Library." Ends up, he doesn't "work" for the library in the sense of being an employee. He is probably doing his work at the library (millions do each year!). We fear the confusion might make people think he is offering his opinion as an employee.

*The vast majority of research books will remain on the site (in far superior storage conditions)

*None of the public spaces he and others enjoy will change, and we'll be returning a circulating collection to this main library (it had one for its first 70 years).

*This plan will be greatly expanding access to the library. The renovation will allow all New Yorkers–scholars, students, educators, immigrants, job-seekers– to take advantage of this beautiful building and its world-class collections.

Obviously the issue is more complex than soundbites from either side, so feel free to educate yourself further and form your own opinion:


posted by zarq at 3:11 PM on February 27, 2014 [6 favorites]

It's probably also worth pointing out that he's not a librarian, he's a computer programmer.
posted by jetlagaddict at 3:12 PM on February 27, 2014

I've spent *a lot* of time doing research at the main branch of the NYPL, and I still can't say that I entirely understand the objections to the remodel. It's true that some books will be stored offsite, but it won't take too long to get them, and it's not like book retrieval has been hugely efficient at that library anyway. Especially if they come up with a good way to order your books in advance online, I don't think it's going to be a big problem for people who actually use that library for research. I like the idea of having a circulating library and more computers, because I think that libraries should be for everyone, not just for scholars. And honestly, most of the people who go into the building right now are tourists, not people who are actually reading anything. I don't think it's some scholarly paradise that is going to be corrupted if they move some of the more obscure books to New Jersey.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:17 PM on February 27, 2014

Hey, if it's not an article about how the "new" generation of librarians aren't bun-haired spinsters, it's one from the Change-Is-Bad crowd. Anyone who really loves books should make note of this:
"It's very hot and still in these stacks," says Victoria Steele, the library's head of collections. "It's not good for the books. And actually, if you take a little whiff, that's the smell of books dying."
But, no, let's boil it all down to a Facebook-friendly soundbite by someone who can't get over his cheese being moved.

posted by Halloween Jack at 3:25 PM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

The first half of this article is a repetitive mess. I get it, you wanted to photograph this human of New York, he happens to be eating a lunch containing chicken, and he has something important he wants to say about the NYPL.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 3:31 PM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

The first half of this article is a repetitive mess. I get it, you wanted to photograph this human of New York, he happens to be eating a lunch containing chicken, and he has something important he wants to say about the NYPL.

My impression is that this is something that happens 2-3 times a week, so the reporters get confused.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:59 PM on February 27, 2014

As I understand it, the proposed changes to the main building will coincide with the closure/sale of the Mid-Manhattan branch that catty-corner across 5th Avenue. That's a very heavily trafficked branch (when I worked in Midtown I used both facilities heavily) and, if it closes, where are all those people going to go? As a dedicated library user and as a librarian, I don't think the Schwartzman building is best suited to becoming the new Mid-Manhattan branch. And do we really want it to be? What's wrong with keeping this gem as it is? They can improve conditions in the stacks without making it into just another branch.
posted by orrnyereg at 4:19 PM on February 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Weirdly enough, I work at a library just outside of Boston and just last week I too was outside my library eating chicken. When the people taking my picture asked for a comment, I shrugged and said, "I wish I remembered my keys so I could open the door. It's cold out."

They said, "No not about that. The fire." And I turned to watch the burning building a bit too long because by the time I was ready to explain to them again that it was pretty cold out, the police had their cuffs on me and I was being helped into a cruiser.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:22 PM on February 27, 2014 [4 favorites]

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