Bookings are now open for my three 2020 residential writing retreats, co-tutored with RNA Chair Alison May. Details can be found here.
Things I Love about New York No. 1 – The NYC Public Library
So – time to play tourist. I set out, map in hand, to find the New York Public Library.
The library has dozens of branches around the five boroughs, but its heart is in the Schwarzman Building on 5th Avenue.
When it was opened in 1911, it was the largest marble building in the US – with a million books on it’s 75 miles of shelves.
It looks like this right now…
I spent a couple of hours wandering around inside…
Its interesting how the aura of old-world scholarship remains, despite the computers scattered everywhere, and the people like me, wandering around in wide-eyed wonder at the splendour of it all.
See all those books on the shelves…
They are just catalogues of the actual books, many of the rare and out of print, which are stored in the parts of the building the public can’t access.
Each catelogue is page after page of photocopies of the old style file cards which have recorded the contents of the vaults since the early 1900s.
The library now has more than 50 million items – not just books, but photographs and maps and letters and diaries donated by some of the most famous and brilliant peope of the last century.. or more.
It’s almost enough to make a girl want to start writing historical novels just so I can do my research here.
It also has a Gutenberg Bible… which you are not allowed to photograph.
It’s over 500 years old and quite simply beautiful. Almost enough to bring a tear to the eye of a jet lagged author.
There is also a hand written copy of the Declaration of Independence but that was not on display the day I went.
There’s a good excuse, if one is needed, to go back another day.
In the meantime, I am now the proud owner of a NYC Public Library card. There are more than 15 million books I can now borrow or browse in one of the grand reading rooms.
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