the grand reading room

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‘Patience And Fortitude’ And The Fight To Save NYC’s Storied Public Library

Fresh Air book critic Maureen Corrigan writes:

“Since it opened in 1911, the building has become a New York City landmark, praised not only for its beauty but also for its functional brilliance. In the words of one contemporary architect, the main branch of The New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street is “a perfect machine for reading.” The grand Reading Room sits atop seven levels of iron and steel books stacks whose contents could, at one time, be delivered to anybody who requested a book within a matter of minutes via a small elevator. Those stacks also support the floor of the Reading Room above.

Financial support for The New York Public Library, however, was never as firm as its structural underpinnings. In a gripping new book called, Patience and Fortitude (the title, of course, derives from the names of the two iconic lions that guard the Library’s entrance), reporter Scott Sherman details how deficits and bottom-line business logic very nearly gutted one of the world’s greatest public research libraries.”