New York: The City's Libraries
The New York Public Library, The Brooklyn Public Library, The Queens Borough Public Library
The more you enjoy a particular kind of cultural or recreational reading, the more you need more books. It is the effort to bring the right books for each to the individuals in a community that gives libraries their purpose.
No man, woman, or child will ever need, for personal use, all the books in the public libraries. If a man, acquainted with over three thousand languages and dialects, were able to read one hundred pages an hour for ten hours every day, he could ready all the books in The New York Public Library in about 2,740 years. At the end he would, of course, be 'way behind in his reading, because the Library's collection would have grown by many more million volumes.
Specialists though we have become, we have not yet arranged things so that one man does all the reading for his community. In New York during the current year, more than five million readers used the three library systems, The New York Public Library serving the boroughs of Manhattan, The Bronx and Richmond; The Brooklyn Public Library, and The Queens Borough Public Library; and either borrowed for home reading, or consulted in the library, more than twenty-four million books.
Eighty miles of bookshelves in the Central Building behind the Lions at 42nd Street, Manhattan, filled almost to the last inch, hold splendid collections. You don't have to walk all the eighty miles. In fact, because you, and the eleven thousand other persons who come to the Central Building daily, would create a traffic jam in the stacks, you won't see many books, except in the reading rooms. Upon request, in about six and one-half minutes your books will be delivered to you. The catalogue of the Reference Department contains over six million cards to make known to you what is available in the Library. By mail, telephone, and in person from two to three thousand questions a day are asked--and usually answered--at the Information Desk of the Reference Department. The central buildings of The Brooklyn and Queens libraries are proportionally busy.
Central Building in Brooklyn
After setbacks lasting more than a quarter of a century, the completion of Brooklyn's central library building was assured following the granting of a $2,000,000 appropriation by the Board of Estimate in 1937. The site on Grand Army Plaza was selected back in 1905, ground was broken in 1912, the Flatbush Avenue wing was partly completed in 1919, and foundations for the rest of the building were finished in 1931. Every effort has been made for the convenience of the readers. The interior will be glass-walled and airconditioned. Interesting features of the exterior are to be sculptures in stone and a forty-foot bronze grille at the main entrance depicting noted characters from American fiction, such as Tom Sawyer, Hiawatha, and Rip Van Winkle. Capable of housing half a million volumes at the start, the new central library will relieve congestion in the branches, assemble under one roof for the first time the Library's administrative activities, and permit of the display of its valuable collections in attractive surroundings.
Queens Borough Public Library
The Glendale and Woodside branches were well stocked with carefully selected books, those for Woodside branch being selected in accordance with the findings of an intensive community survey conducted. The appreciation of library users in that vicinity was demonstrated by the great number of books circulated during the year, which placed that branch sixth in rank among the twenty-seven branch libraries in Queens. In the preceding year two small branch libraries were established in rented quarters at Laurelton and Rego Park. Extensive alterations in six Carnegie buildings were completed during 1936 and 1937, as well as the creation of a sunken garden on two sides of the Central Building in Jamaica.
New York Public Library
The Westchester Square Branch in The Bronx, a small building erected by W.P.A. under the Borough President, was formally dedicated and turned over to the Library to administer by the Borough President on December 4th, 1937. The following week was devoted to registration of borrowers, and on December 13th the regular work of circulation and reference was begun.
The handsome new Wakefield Branch at Lowerre Place and 229th Street, The Bronx, was completed in1937.
Points of Interest