Introducing the Children’s Center at 42nd Street
It’s what they call in the business a "soft" opening. Not a lot of hullaballoo at first. You just open the doors and wait for people to wander in.
About a half a year ago, as some of you might recall, I was desperately worried about the potential fate of New York Public Library’s Central Children’s Room. Through a series of steps that I will be happy to relate in my memoirs someday a place was secured for the room and in a location I could only have dreamed of. Now my front door has gone from a perfectly serviceable this:
As you might imagine, I am elated with the change. I work with the lions. I get to work with the lions. I am arguably in the most famous library in America and I work with the friggin’ LIE-ONS. Patience and Fortitude are my co-workers.
Well, I’m a lucky duck to say the least. It’s not every children’s librarian that finds his or herself in this situation. Not that "we" as a collection weren’t here at the start. This collection originated in this building. It was only when we ran out of room in the 60s that we moved to Donnell. The proof? Here was the Children’s Room in this building back in 1913:
That was then. This room is now actually just down the hall from our current location. A location that looks just a little something like this:
Yep. That’s a flat screen tv.
Note: Actual desk much brighter and greener than pictured above.
If you look closely at the bookshelves above and then look at the shelves in the second of the black and white pictures, you will notice that they are one and the same. Original shelving, all the way.
The original room had window seats. No seats in this room, so we’ve had to put in couches instead. It should be effective and cozy anyway, though.
The effect is startling, isn’t it? And if you look out the window at the back of the room you can even see the ice skaters in Bryant Park:
We even have a mural by one Susy Pilgrim Waters, seen here:
At first we weren’t certain that she’d done any children’s literature work, but after some digging it was discovered that she was responsible for the cover of Ruth White’s Way Down Deep. Which is neat.
Want to come on by? We are open every day of the week (check our hours here and we are open when the rest of the library is) and anyone can drop by. After Thanksgiving we will be having one slambang humdinger of an opening. We’ll have Chris Raschka, and live owls, and a play version of Pinkalicious and all KINDS of stuff. So stop on by! I’ll be here. And we’re easy to find. Just come to 5th Avenue and 42nd Street. Walk to the ONLY entrance on the 42nd Street side. Take an immediate right and voila! Instant Children’s Center.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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