It’s the latest it’s the greatest it’s the Library

Anyone remember that jingle? It’s from so long ago I can’t even say when.  I’ve always been a big fan of libraries, especially the New York Public Library, my hometown system.  Never as much as now, however.  Because of construction in the apartment above me, I’ve been forced to flee and find other places to write.  That’s how I discovered Malcolm Gladwell’s café (no, he doesn’t own it, he just writes there) and some other fine spots around the city; but by far the best is the DeWitt Wallace Periodical Room at the 42nd Street Library.  The building where the reservoir used to be (there, a fact for free) with the lions, Patience and Fortitude, flanking the steps outside.  You sit here surrounded by other hard-working people — some of them actually reading periodicals — and by carved moldings, high windows, and frescoes of NYC buildings, with faux-marble frames.  What writer couldn’t get something done here?


photo 1(2)carved ceiling 30 feet above our heads


photo 2(1)high window and hard-working people


fresco with faux-marble frame



  1. Susan Law says:

    One of the most beautiful and exciting places in the world!

  2. Marge says:

    Here’s a tribute to the folks that staff your lovely libraries

                                         …a book indeed sometimes debauched me from my work…”
    –Benjamin Franklin

    If librarians were honest,
    they wouldn’t smile, or act
    welcoming. They would say,
    You need to be careful. Here
    be monsters. They would say,
    These rooms house heathens
and heretics, murderers and
maniacs, the deluded, desperate,
and dissolute. They would say,
    These books contain knowledge
of death, desire, and decay,
betrayal, blood, and more blood;
each is a Pandora’s box, so why
would you want to open one.
    They would post danger
    signs warning that contact
    might result in mood swings,
    severe changes in vision,
    and mind-altering effects.
    If librarians were honest
    they would admit the stacks
    can be more seductive and
    shocking than porn. After all,
    once you’ve seen a few
    breasts, vaginas, and penises,
    more is simply more,
    a comforting banality,
    but the shelves of a library
    contain sensational novelties,
    a scandalous, permissive mingling
    of Malcolm X, Marx, Melville,
    Merwin, Millay, Milton, Morrison,
    and anyone can check them out,
    taking them home or to some corner
    where they can be debauched
    and impregnated with ideas.
    If librarians were honest,
    they would say, 
    No one
spends time here without being
changed. Maybe you should
go home. While you still can.

    • Lynn says:

      Marge, that’s a great tribute to librarians. Did you write it? And if so, can I use it for my next Friends of the Library newsletter? Or would you tell me who to attribute it to? Thanks so much – it made me smile and nod my head a lot!!

  3. Laraine says:

    One of my favorite rooms on the planet. If I were to live in L.A. for any time at all, it would be one of my top choices to work in.

  4. Laraine says:

    Ooops . . . freudian slip there . . . I do live in L.A. . . . obviously meant NY. The great library reading rooms in L.A. are a bit too far from home for me to access regularly. At least until spring, when the subway may open up that possibility for more frequent enjoyment.

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