One of my friends, Beth MacLane, who has given us a ton of local NYC ideas in the past – whether it’s been places to eat, things to do or places to go – has always been on point. So when she said she always tries to stop in at the New York City Public Library whenever she’s in town, I knew we probably needed to check it out. She said it’s so peaceful and something you can’t experience anywhere else.
The initial doubts were there for me…I mean, the library? Really? A “must go to” spot? I had been to the Costa Mesa, CA branch and trust me; you wouldn’t want to experience that one. I’m kinda kidding. Anyway, we had a Saturday free (rare for both Tara and I) so we decided to take full advantage of it and make our way to midtown and check out the main branch.
A few fun facts:
*It opened in 1895
*It’s the 2nd largest library in the US (3rd in the world) behind only the Library of Congress
*It houses 53 million items (45 million research items and 8 million branch items)
*While this is the main branch, there are 87 branches in all
*It’s independently managed as a non-profit corporation with both private and public financing
This place is massive – 3 levels to be exact. When I walked in, the first thing I noticed was the ceiling and architecture. It’s pretty incredible. It reminds me of my trip to Europe and just feeling like you’re back in time with some of the structures. The first level has mainly exhibit items about the library history.
The 2nd level has a few reading rooms and a few exhibit literature items like this first edition Reader’s Digest. The reading rooms are decorated with amazing paintings.
The 3rd level houses all the books and more reading rooms. I was surprised that they had all the tables updated with power supplies as well as laptops for check-out (as long as used in the library). Technically, you weren’t supposed to take pictures in these rooms but you know…I went stealth / ninja mode and took some images…all in the name of blogging.
We wanted to get a library card but you had to have certain documentation showing that you lived there. Tara had that documentation on her so she got a card. I, of course, did not and will have to wait to get mine the next time we go back. Tara actually got the card, in part, because she wanted to check-out a book that she’d had her eye on but didn’t want to pay $12 to buy it on Amazon. Come to find out, this is 1 of 4 NON-LENDING branches where you can check it out but you have to read it in the library.
Later, we found out that if you have a kindle, you can get it electronically and check it out that way for 30 days. To give you an idea of how many people use this library, all electronic copies of the book she wanted were checked out and she was in the “600 range” of people on the waiting list.
All in all, it’s a great visit! I can see why Beth goes there often. Oh and once again, it’s free!