This year, the New York Public Library is celebrating its 125th anniversary. With 53 million items and 92 locations across Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island, the NYPL is the largest municipal library in the world. It’s also the steward of some of New York’s greatest landmarks, reflecting a century and a quarter of Gotham’s history, and in some cases even more.
The roots of this library system can be found in Greenwich Village, the East Village, and Noho. The main antecedents of the NYPL which formed the foundation of today’s system— the Astor Library, the Lenox Library, and the New York Free Circulating Library – all began in these neighborhoods just below 14th Street. As a result, this is where New York’s oldest public library buildings and the oldest building housing an NYPL branch are located — the latter ironically having been where great works of literature were banned and censored before it became a library.
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Library patrons in New York City checked out former first lady Michelle Obama’s autobiography Becoming the most out of any book this year. The New York Public Library shared on Wednesday its annual top checkouts list from its branches in the Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, as well as its e-book catalog. Becoming, ranked as one of the best-selling memoirs of all time, follows the story of Obama’s life, from growing up on the South Side of Chicago to becoming the first African American to serve as First Lady of the United States.
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J.D. Salinger on the deck of the M.S. Kungsholm, 1941; Courtesy of the New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations and the J.D. Salinger Literary Trust
The life of famously private author J.D. Salinger will be the focus of a new New York Public Library exhibit. To mark the centennial of The Catcher in the Rye writer’s birth, the library will display more than 200 items from Salinger’s life, most of which have never before been seen by the public. The exhibition, “J.D. Salinger,” includes family photographs from his time growing up in Manhattan, his own typewriter, and original typescript and proofs.
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A majority of New Yorkers–95 percent–said in an online survey that Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s proposed $11 million funding cut to public libraries would hurt the city’s communities, according to the Daily News; scaled-back hours and reduced programs like free after-school options for teens would curtail staffing and hiring across all five boroughs. Now, actress Sarah Jessica Parker is adding her celebrity firepower to help rescue the city’s libraries with an online campaign, the New York Post reports.
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The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, located in Lincoln Center, has just announced that the Lou Reed Archive is open to the public. The archive documents the life and history of the musician, composer, poet, writer, photographer and tai-chi student through his own extensive collection of papers, photographs, recordings and other materials that span Reed’s creative life starting with his 1958 Freeport High School band, the Shades, right up to his last performances in 2013. In addition, the archive’s opening is being celebrated with a special edition library card as well as a display of items in the collection and more events.
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Rendering of the Marshall Rose Plaza by Mecanoo with Beyer Blinder Belle
The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday approved the New York Public Library’s plan to add a new public entrance and plaza to its Stephen A. Schwarzman Building in Midtown. The changes fall under the library’s larger master renovation plan, a $317 million project first unveiled in 2017. The LPC approved the changes to the exterior of the building–subject to the city’s landmark rules–after design modifications suggested at a presentation in February were made by the library, Curbed NY reported.
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The New York Public Library has announced its annual top checkouts list for the year; The most sought-after title in the three public library systems–including books and e-books from the New York Public Library (covering the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island), Brooklyn Public Library, and Queens Library–was Jennifer Egan’s “Manhattan Beach.” Egan won a Pulitzer Prize for “A Visit From the Goon Squad” in 2011; her newest novel is, as the New York Times puts it in a review, “principally a novel of New York” that “pays tribute to the city’s iconography.”
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The New York Public Library launched on Monday a limited-edition library card highlighting the message behind all public libraries: knowledge is power. The special black and silver card serves as a reminder to New Yorkers to fight misinformation, stay informed, and, of course, visit your local library. The card is available at NYPL‘s 92 locations across the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island for a limited time.
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For those New Yorkers who haven’t gotten their IDNYC, there’s now a new way to gain free access to museums across the city–your library card. Today, Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), the New York Public Library (NYPL), and Queens Library launched Culture Pass, “a joint library-led, city-wide initiative providing free access to more than 30 museums and cultural institutions across all five boroughs available to every NYC library card holder.” According to a press release, all card holders have to do is go online to reserve a free day pass for themselves and up to three guests at 33 cultural organizations, from the Whitney Museum and MoMA (where regular adult entry is $25/person) to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Wave Hill.
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The New York Public Library first roared into existence on May 23, 1895, educating and inspiring countless millions, free of charge. The Library’s 92 locations include four research divisions and hold over 51 million items. Out of all these tomes, the greatest tale might be Library’s own history: Founded by immigrants and industrialists, it was equally admired by William Howard Taft and Vladimir Lenin; open to all, it has counted among its staff American Olympians and Soviet spies; dedicated to intellectual exploration and civic responsibility, it has made its map collection available to buried treasure hunters and Allied Commanders; evolving with the city itself, it has made branch locations out of a prison, a movie theater, and most recently, a chocolate factory. The history of the New York Public Library is as vital and various New York itself, so get ready to read between the lions.
The 123-year-old history of the NYPL