It's been a long day, and not just because I've been fighting off a cold for the last 4 days. All I want to do is sleep, but after reading an article in the NYTimes I may be sleepless tonight. The article in question, Sacking a Palace of Culture by Edmond Morris, hit me in the gut (again). Mr. Morris, who's written about Beethoven, Roosevelt and Reagan, reiterates the point of my earlier post about the plan to transform the main branch of the New York Public library into a cafe-cum-internet-bar by housing more than half of the library's books in New Jersey. Swell plan, right? Sure. If you aren't a researcher. And who does that anymore? I mean, we have the internet for that, right?
Edmond Morris made a visit to the Lincoln Center library where I've spent a great deal of time and saw what I see when I go there: closed rooms and a staff devastated by cuts. So the director of the library system wants to spend 300 million on the main branch while you can't get a question answered at the research library at Lincoln Center? Sorry. I'm not as eloquent as Mr. Morris. I think said director - Mr. Antony W. Marx and his board of directors - should be ashamed. Is this what it's come to now? The productization of libraries? Because, that's what it looks like. There is nothing free about a library when you can't even use it efficiently. Oh yeah. Did I mention that the Performing Arts Research Library at Lincoln Center isn't being patronized like it used to? That's my impression anyway, every time I go there. It's like visiting a Wild West ghost town. Put up a tombstone and it will blend right in. Gee, I wonder why that is?
This is the library where I learned how to research. Who taught me that? The librarians. They clued me into all the hidden resources that no one knows about. Case in point: there is a great biographical card catalogue file that was handwritten by librarians that goes back to the early 1890's. Think that is going to be put online? Nope. That one card card file alone has given me gold. Why do you think I am endeavoring to write? This gold wouldn't have come my way without the knowledge and canny abilities of librarians. Where are they now? I don't see them. Not where it counts anyway.
I think I am going to be sick.
Image of the Rose Reading Room at the New York Public Library Main Branch.