USA 2016 Travel Diary: Cooling down at the New York Public Library

I’m pretty sure I am not the only one who gets giddy about the idea of going to a library, much less a library as iconic and massive as the New York Public Library. Being a bit of a book-lover myself, I get a kick out of seeing my books arranged on shelves even though I have more books than shelf space at the moment. Let’s not even start with my to-read pile.

Here in Manila we don’t really have a public library system that even comes close to what other more progressive countries have. My university library is pretty much the best I’ve been to locally. The government just doesn’t value education as much as they should. So yes, I’m jealous of your public libraries, America! Of how the books are housed in majestic marble buildings like this one!

I decided to squeeze in a brief visit to the New York Public Library since it was just a few blocks away from Grand Central Terminal, which was our first stop. The Main Building of the New York Public Library system is actually called the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. It was named after the man who donated $100 Million for the renovation of the library! Wow.

This historic landmark is “guarded” by two lion statues named ‘Patience’ and ‘Fortitude’. Two things that are very very important in life, in my opinion. Apparently these nicknames were given to the statues during the time of the Great Depression in the 1930’s, to remind New Yorkers to hold on to these two virtues to get through. Originally, the lions were named after the founders of the New York Public Library, Astor and Lenox.

Heading inside, I was immediately in awe of the library’s massiveness thanks to the high ceilings. We ascended the stairs to the second floor. I loved walking up those spacious marble steps.

Frankly speaking I have never been to a library as large as this. Even walking up and down the halls feels extra special, and a small part of me is kind of imagining being in Hogwarts or something like that. 😀 Must be really nice to have a place like this to study or just quietly bond with yourself. I like it.

The upper floor was even more attention-grabbing. The McGraw Rotunda greets you with a beautiful ornate ceiling highlighted by an incredible painting– Edward Laning’s ‘Prometheus Bringing the Gift of Fire’. According to Greek mythology, this fire symbolizes the human spark of knowledge. Appropriate isn’t it?

The many other large murals here at the Rotunda is a series that depicts the development of books and printing over the years. Also by Laning, the series is called ‘Story of the Recorded World’. Being in here is like being in a library and a museum in one.

There was one room in particular I wanted to check out, but in my excitement I had completely forgotten that it was being renovated. The Rose Main Reading Room was the primary reason why I wanted to visit the New York Public Library in the first place, so with a slightly dejected spirit I checked out the other open rooms instead.

The Edna Barnes Salomon Room is actually occasionally rented for private events and parties, sometimes even weddings. Today it’s serving its regular function. It’s a spacious area lined with long tables, and the paintings on the wall remind me of how I used to decorate the library when playing ‘The Sims’! I like how quiet it is in here as well. It feels like a good place to get some work done!

We didn’t go too far after this, so I didn’t get to run my fingers through actual books. But maybe that’s a good thing. I remember my Aunt taking me to a library in San Francisco as she was returning some books she borrowed. Faced with all those rows of books, I almost didn’t want to leave.

The renovation of the Rose Reading Room really put a damper on my mood, but what can you do? I guess you go and visit the Gift Shop? And because it’s a dang lovely shop it did well to lift my spirits.

There were a lot of books in here with covers and editions I have never seen before, but many of them were kind of expensive. It’s actually more expensive to buy books in physical bookstores in the States compared to when I buy books here at home. Plus you have to pay for taxes, and we all know that adds up. Still, nothing equals the giddiness I feel in my heart when I’m in a room full of books!

Gaaah! These particular editions of the classics are sooo pretty!

They also have some New York Public Library merch, and I would’ve bought myself a tote bag if only it wasn’t so pricey! If they had a snow globe it would’ve been a different story. I’m always looking for some unique ones to add to my collection.

We didn’t spend too much time here in the New York Public Library, mainly because I was the only one who liked these kinds of bookish places. I didn’t want to bore my Dad! As we exited the building I made a mental note to come back by myself next time, with a book and my laptop maybe. I just need to make sure the Rose Reading Room is open by then.


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