Exploring Architecture in the New York Public Library

If you’re an architecture fan and in New York City, then there will be amazing sights nearly everywhere you look; but for the best example of Beaux Arts architecture, for majestic white Vermont marble and Corinthian columns and powerful statues, there’s no where else to go than the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue, at 42nd Street. There, you’ll discover not only the Vermont marble and columns, but, just as you climb the stairs on the Fifth Avenue entrance, you’ll see two of the most famous lion sculptures in the world, known as Fortitude and Patience (Fortitude is to the right; Patience is on the left), so named by past mayor Fiorello La Guardia.

The Fifth Avenue Branch of the New York Public Library is actually the Humanities and Social Sciences Library, one of a number of research libraries in the New York system. Inside, you’ll see Astor Hall, a room with grand staircases and high arched marble ceilings. On the third floor, in the Main Reading Rooms, you’ll find that the library is modernized and restored, simultaneously moving into the computer age and renewing its former glory.

For those who wish to remain connected to the world, even while spending time inside a building that was constructed in 1911, there’s free Wi-Fi service. A five million dollar restoration is transforming Room 117, which is considered a Beaux Arts masterpiece with facade, with an aim to be completed by the building’s centennial in 2011.

Unlike other great libraries, like the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., the New York Public Library was not created by the government, but rather a combination of city government working together with private philanthropists. Even in 2010, the research libraries are funded with private money, while the circulating or branch libraries are financed using city funds. It wasn’t until a few months ago, in the early part of 2010, that the operations of the branch and research portions merged together.

Not only will you find books and peace at the New York Public Library, but also exhibitions as well. For example, currently at the Mid-Manhattan Library, there’s an exhibit in the Art and Picture collection, running until July 14, 2010, titled, “Found New York.” Here, you’ll see color photographs by mixed media artist Linda Stillman. Her “Found New York” documents lost objects she discovers and then photographs on the New York City Streets, reflecting her interest in overlooked objects. If you’ve lost anything and have yet to find it, perhaps checking these photos may jog your memory.

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They Call This a Public Library

We seem to have gotten so self-righteous and narrow-minded that we are now sending a clear message to our children that it is better not to borrow a book from a public library in case a policeman comes to your door to arrest you because you forgot to return it.

Do you think that this is far-fetched? Ask the five-year-old child who cried when she saw the policeman at the door because she thought he was going to arrest her.

Apparently, her fears weren’t unfounded. According to a news source, “Christopher Anspach was sentenced to ten days in jail for failing to return his overdue library books after several months and multiple overdue notices.” Christopher’s mother said they didn’t receive any notices; the public library said they sent them.

But, who cares that a child didn’t return the books? What have we been reduced to that a public library has taken to strong-arming children to return books? We are so far behind most of the countries of the civilized world in education that you would think the libraries would be delighted that some children still want to read books.

So what if it costs our libraries a few thousand dollars for the unreturned books? If, as ABC News reported, taxpayers are footing the $600,000 bill to research the sex lives of African squirrels and there are 92 studies of pigeons that we are paying for, among many other studies of this ilk, then surely, we can afford to use some of that money to keep our children going to libraries to read books.

It’s a sad commentary on our society that our citizens read so far below the level of sixth grade students. Surveys have been conducted and the consensus is that most adults are willing to read articles online if they are short, and to read magazines with pictures, but they don’t want to read text without pictures. If children see their parents spending a lot of time at the computer and not reading any books, they are likely to emulate their actions.

We have a severe problem in this country. Children are turning away from books in favor of playing video games, talking on their cell phones, texting, IMing, and a million other things that don’t require reading. Publishers have stopped taking a chance on new authors and most of their books are reissues of their best-selling authors.

People in this country aren’t reading as much as they used to, so consequently, publishers aren’t publishing as many new books as they used to. To verify this point, just walk into any bookstore and count the number of new authors whose books are displayed on their shelves, especially in relation to how many books are reissues of best-selling authors.

And now the public libraries, in their infinite wisdom, are sending policemen to the homes of little children to retrieve borrowed books. Have they not realized that if these children stop reading books, there will come a time when libraries will become obsolete and these librarians will be out of a job?

Several of the branch libraries in my city have closed their doors, and that was before law enforcement officers were sent to traumatize children into returning borrowed books. As much as I love books, I don’t know if I would have continued to read if, like that five-year-old child, I thought that I was going to be arrested for not returning the books. And can you imagine the boy who was sentenced to ten days in jail for not returning library books ever wanting to go to another library again?

I remember seeing a library book in a friend’s house. I picked it up and looked at the card that was inserted in the holder at the back of the book and saw that the book was a year overdue. The title of the book was “How to Improve Your Memory.”

The Internet Resembles A Public Library

The Internet was first created back in 1960s and was designed to help with the military communication and also with research. Among the few people who were actually allowed to use the Internet were the librarians, the scientists and the engineers. However, today things have changed radically as all of us can use the Internet without any worries. All we need is a computer and an Internet connection.

The amount of information that can be found online can sometimes be overwhelming. From facts about nature, to science and fashion there is absolutely nothing that you cannot find out from the online environment. The resemblance with a public library is obvious as in our days you are able to write a paper only by gathering all your information from the online environment. There is also a wide space where you can find out all the resources that you need: the Internet public library. The work for the library actually started back in 1995 and in just three months it was “open to the public”.

The library is actually a free website that is run by students at Drexel University. The origins of the Internet public library started at the University of Michigan. This library is created by and for the Internet community and it functions like any other website that has public access. You have sections like Teens, Newspapers and so on. We can say that the Internet Public Library is very popular as it receives about 10.000 hits per day.

There are several main services that make the library the place to go to if you have to write an essay or a paper. A user also has the chance to ask questions to a librarian located anywhere around the world. This is a very good way of finding out the exact information you need from a specialist. There is also a Reading room where people can browse through thousands of titles and authors in order to find what they are looking for.

But besides this specialized place where you can search for the information that you need there are also some other great sites that allow you to download the books that you want to read. You can either do this at your PC or from your laptop. With the help of the Internet we will be able to stop cutting trees and make books available for more and more people. As you can clearly see, the Internet can be compared with a public library for good reason so why don’t you start looking for the next book you want to read?