Rediscovering New York

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

2020/06/23 - New York's Great Public Libraries

[NEW EPISODE] New York's Great Public Libraries

On this week’s show we will be taking an in depth look at some of New York City’s great public library systems – yes, we have more than one, three in fact! We will be looking at two of them.

My guests will be Keith Glutting, Manager, New York Public Library Visitor Volunteer Program at the
New York Public Library, and Jennifer Thompson, Assistant Director of the Central Library at Brooklyn Public Library.

Segment 1

The show begins by introducing the week’s topic - New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library. He introduces his first guest, Keith Glutting, Manager of the NYPL Visitor Volunteer Program. Keith was originally from Ocean County NJ, visiting both NYC and Philadelphia frequently. Keith describes some of the inspirations and early work experiences that led him to the field of public libraries and its history. He then goes into the complex question of how NYPL got its start, the Astor Library, and how NYPL became an official institution. Keith also mentions other public libraries affiliated with NYPL and the relationship of public libraries with the city and its citizens throughout the years. The segment ends talking about historical steel industrialist Andrew Carnegie and his relation to NYPL.

Segment 2

The segment opens about when and how NYPL’s central library was conceived. After reminiscing about the conveyor belts that would deliver books to the NYPL’s patrons, Keith describes the magnitude of the library’s book collection and its online catalog. Jeff and Keith go further in-depth to how books are maintained and delivered around the library’s building. On the topic of architecture, Keith talks about the lion statues that stand guard around the NYPL building. Keith talks about who sculpted the lions, the lions’ names, and their inspirations. Following this, Keith lists his personal favorite points of interest within the library. The segment ends with informing audiences on how to connect with the NYPL and their events despite the Covid-19 lockdown.

Segment 3

Jeff introduces his next guest, Jennifer Thompson, Assistant Director of the Central Library of Brooklyn Public Library. Jennifer describes what led her to her career at BPL and other experiences in the field of library sciences. Jeff and Jennifer go briefly into the history of public libraries in Brooklyn before diving into the planning and architectural history and style of the BPL’s central branch. The segment ends detailing more bits of facts surrounding the BPL including its scale and rank among libraries in NYC.

Segment 4

Jennifer describes some of the variety of collections the BPL holds and the different wings of the buildings reserved for them. Many of these collections are centered on music including recordings, sheet music, and instrument loans. Jennifer then shares some of the more interesting “nooks and crannies” of the BPL, commenting on how the library itself is shaped like a book. There is much collaboration between the major library systems of NYC; Jennifer highlights some of the events BPL and other libraries do to support one another. She then describes some of the strategies BPL has implemented to engage with patrons and the community despite the Covid-19 lockdown. The show ends with where audiences can learn more about the BPL.