Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Manhattan's New 53rd Street Library Is a Mess

Manhattan's Donnell Library was demolished way back in 2008 and that part of the city has done without a public library on that spot until now that the 53rd Street branch of the New York Public Library has opened.  But don't get too excited by the news...because it's both the good news and the bad news.  It seems that the new branch is less a library and more a monstrosity of a community center than anything else.  Looking for actual books? You might want to look elsewhere (because there really aren't all that many books there) according to New York Magazine
The new branch does indeed provide the perfect haven for checking stock prices and Twitter. Patrons can tap and scroll in tranquility, unmolested by the odor of caffeine, the need for a password, the feel of greasy tables, or a barista’s stare. As a place to research a school project or browse for esoteric bedtime reading, on the other hand, it offers dismaying advice: Try elsewhere. Order a book from the website. Download an e-book. Walk ten blocks to the perpetually derelict, perpetually to-be-renovated Mid-Manhattan branch for the Russian-language edition of Anna Kareninathat used to be in the Donnell’s World Languages collection. 
Glance in from the sidewalk, and the eye falls on a set of blond-wood terraces that go cascading into a cave, between walls of metal slats and raw concrete. The vibe mixes the slovenly with the dictatorial. On the steps, felt discs — four per row, not really plush enough to qualify as cushions — demonstrate where to place one’s behind, but in the end most people sprawl or hunch. Neither is especially comfortable. This narrow buried amphitheater gives library patrons a split-level vista: above, a rat’s-eye view of the street and passers-by; below, a wide screen playing a promotional slideshow for New York and its libraries. 

And that's not all, so take a look at the article I linked to up above for more details.  I tell you, folks, if this is the future of public libraries in America, someone is making a big, big mistake.  Why call them libraries if books are an afterthought to them? Call them what they are: Free WiFi with a few books.

The city of New York likes to think of itself as a trendsetter...well, this time around, all I can say is thanks for nothing, NYC, thanks for nothing.

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