The smell of books dying

June 12, 2012

On NPR’s Morning Edition program today, Margot Adler reported on the loud and passionate debate over the proposed renovation of the iconic main building of the New York Public Library on 42nd Street in Manhattan. The beautiful Beaux Arts-style building with those glorious lions guarding the entrance was opened in 1911 after nearly nine years of construction. The seven floors of stacks which are closed to the public hold 3 million volumes. Victoria Steele, head of collections, says, “It’s very hot and still in these stacks. It’s not good for the books. And actually, if you take a little whiff, that’s the smell of books dying.”

The hotly debated plan to demolish the stacks and move the books to a storage location under the nearby Bryant Park branch and to a climate-controlled location in New Jersey has many up in arms. The full story (see link above) goes on to present both sides.

Barbara L.

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