Behind the scenes at the New York Public Library

As much as I love to travel and have experiences in new places, I also love to explore my own backyard. Knowing this, and also about my love for books, my friend Kathryn invited me to spend a recent Saturday going behind the scenes of the New York Public Library with the New York Adventure Club.

I’m embarrassed to admit that in almost two years of living in New York City, I had never been to the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building – the iconic structure in midtown that usually springs to mind when the term “library” is thrown around. The Schwarzman building is one of four research libraries in the NYPL system (there are also 88 circulation libraries between Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx – Brooklyn and Queens have separate library systems). While you can’t check books out of the Schwarzman building, it is filled with research rooms, reading rooms and rotating exhibits. The famous Rose Reading Room closed for restoration only a couple months after I moved here, so I’m especially anxious to go back and see it when it reopens!

Behind the scenes at the New York Public LibraryBehind the scenes at the New York Public LibraryBehind the scenes at the New York Public LibraryBehind the scenes at the New York Public LibraryBehind the scenes at the New York Public LibraryBehind the scenes at the New York Public LibraryBehind the scenes at the New York Public Library

To the surprise of absolutely no one, the map room was my favorite.

Behind the scenes at the New York Public LibraryBehind the scenes at the New York Public Library

Above is the McGraw Rotunda, filled with murals illustrating the history of the printed word, starting with Moses coming down from Mount Sinai with the tablet.

Behind the scenes at the New York Public LibraryBehind the scenes at the New York Public Library

The diary of Elizabeth DeHart Bleecker, containing one of the only written records of the death of Alexander Hamilton in 1804.

Behind the scenes at the New York Public LibraryBehind the scenes at the New York Public Library

Old menus, transit passes and photos from New York City. This was my favorite part of the tour, especially when our guide went out of his way to mention that the NYPL focuses on “cultural history, not highbrow history.” They really want to document the day-to-day life of New York City – a mission I can get behind! You can browse some of their menus online here.

 

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