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Libraries of the World: The New York Public Library

September 4, 2017

Until I arrived in New York I had only briefly thought about what I wanted to see there. 

 

I have wanted to visit since I was little. To me, it was a city of American TV shows and yellow taxis. Only after being there for a few days did I realise how important NYC was to my cultural reference points. 

 

My favourite film is Breakfast at Tiffany's and almost immediately upon walking around the streets it began to come flooding back to me.

 

As I mentioned in my last post we were wandering New York, a little overwhelmed after our week of intense work. We stumbled across the library and I knew that I had to go in. 

 

 

The front of the library is already impressive, with its iconic stone lions and columns, but the inside is breathtaking. 

 

As with all old, majestic buildings my first thought was 'Hogwarts!'.

 

 

The Hogwarts feeling is heightened when you see the lamps everywhere and hear the hushed footfall of eager library goers. 

 

Heading up the stairs I was totally enthralled. The library is open to the public for free every day. This really surprised me and I practically skipped up the stairs feeling as if we had snuck into one of the most beautiful buildings I've ever seen. The quiet and reverence certainly gives it all a slightly forbidden feel!

 

 The halls and rotundas are beautiful, with ornate wood and marble surrounding them and painted ceilings to make you swoon. But I wanted to find the books! 

 

I think I might have slightly scared the good people of New York by skipping around whispering 'where are the books?' but hey, it's my holiday!

 

And oh, wow, finding the books is worth it. 

 

 I resisted the intense urge to shout 'Varjak, Paul' à la Holly Golightly and instead stared about me in wonder. 

 

I honestly cannot believe that these photos are photos that I took. That I stood in this beautiful room full of books and scholars and joy. It seems completely unreal to me now. 

 

 

 Everyone working in the library was clearly writing a book or studying for a PhD or in some other way changing the world with their intent reading.

 

The quiet after the noise of the city outside was like plunging into the pool after a long day. Cool, calm, uplifting. 

 

 

Exploring the library is amazing because there are tiny research rooms full of incredible works, first editions, manuscripts letters and even authors' furniture! The desire to become a researcher and have an excuse to spend my days squirrelled away in these little beacons of learning was pretty strong. 

 

There are 53 million items in the NYPL and it is the fourth largest library in the world. It was certainly one of the most magical places I have ever been.

 

What's your favourite library? Let me know in the comments!

 

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