“If the Devil himself wrote a book, we’d want it in the library.”
–Edwin Hatfield Anderson, Director of the New York Public Library, 1913-1934
Last week my mom and I took a fabulous whirlwind trip to New York. A highlight was a lengthy visit to the New York Public Library. Sadly, this fabulous exhibit, which I saw in March with my awesome Queens-dwelling friend Beth, is no longer on display. But there were so many other great things to see that it almost didn’t matter. We took the official tour (with a slightly prickly but amusing guide) where we learned many fun library facts:
DID YOU KNOW that until 1971 (when they began imaging the records) there were nine thousand card catalog drawers, containing more than ten million cards?
DID YOU KNOW that the main library reading room is the size of a football field and seats 636 people?
Yes, I am a big nerd to find all of this so fascinating, but there you have it.
Because it’s the 100th anniversary of the library’s dedication, there’s a special exhibit highlighting the library’s holdings called Celebrating 100 Years. And what do they have there? Let’s see: Jack Kerouac’s pipe and lighter; Virginia Wolfe’s walking stick (found by Leonard Wolfe floating in the River Ouse after she drowned herself); handwritten music by Bob Dylan, John Coltrane and Beethoven; e.e. cummings’ typewriter; Malcolm X’s briefcase, journal, and Koran; T.S. Eliot’s typewritten draft of “The Waste Land” (with handwritten suggestions by Ezra Pound), and on, and on, and on.
And of course we had to make a stop in the children’s room to visit my favorite exhibit: The REAL Winnie-the-Pooh and friends, that belonged to the real Christopher Robin.
So many literary relics, so little time.