Monday, January 22, 2018

New York Public Library Revisited

I worked at the New York Public Library Science and Technology Division from 1983-1990.  That division was located in Room 121 in the famous building at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street now known as the Schwartzman Building.  I visited a few times in the early 1990s shortly after I left, but I hadn't been there for at least 25 years.

I wanted to do some research so I looked up the following books in their online catalog:

Thornley, Stew. 2000. Land of the Giants: New York's Polo Grounds. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

McGee, Bob. 2005. The greatest ballpark ever: Ebbets Field and the story of the Brooklyn Dodgers. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press

The Research Library is non-circulating so all books must be read there.  For now, I was more interested in Stew Thornley's book since I have contacted him through SABR and it was not available in a circulating library.  The McGee book is available through the Queens Library.

Sometimes, procedures don't change over the years.  It is still necessary to fill out a call slip and wait for the book to be retrieved from the stacks.  When I submitted the two requests, the clerk said that it would take about 30 minutes to get it.  It actually took 45 minutes.  I can understand that since there are literally miles of book stacks at NYPL and it must take time to retrieve the items and send it to the reading room.  I still remember that I had to cope with irate patrons who were very impatient about getting their materials.

I spent over two hours with Stew's book on the Polo Grounds and was glad that I found the information I was looking for about that stadium.  I glanced at the Ebbets Field book since I can get a circulating copy from the Queens Library.

The reading room was quite busy, but most of the people were using their own laptops and not accessing the library's resources.  One of the roles of a library is to provide a quiet study space, but NYPL provides access to resources not available at other public libraries.

After I finished my research I took a tour of the building to see how it had changed over the past 25 years,  There was a snack bar near the 5th Avenue entrance.  Room 121 housed the Milstein Division (local history and genealogy) since the Science Division moved to Madison Avenue and 34th Street in 1994 and renamed SIBL (Science Industry and Business Library).

I concluded my day by viewing the exhibit Peace Love and Revolution at the Library.  I offered many artifacts from the 1960s including a board with album covers from 1960s artists including Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and many others.  Visitors could press a button to hear various 1960s hits.

It was certainly a productive day.

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