Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Rose Main Reading Room of the New York Public Library

This is the Rose Main Reading Room, a stunning public space that is part of the General Research Division's Room 315 in the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan. 

From the New York Public Library website: The space measures seventy-eight feet by two hundred and ninety-seven feet—roughly the length of two city blocks—and weaving together Old World architectural elegance with modern technology. Here, visitors can read or study at long oak tables lit by elegant bronze lamps, beneath fifty-two foot tall ceilings decorated by dramatic murals of vibrant skies and billowing clouds. Since the General Research Division’s opening day in 1911, vast numbers of people have entered the main reading room. Literary figures such as Norman Mailer, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Elizabeth Bishop, E. L. Doctorow and Alfred Kazin have cited the Division as a major resource for their work. In one of his memoirs, New York Jew, Kazin described his youthful impression of the reading room: “There was something about the. . .light falling through the great tall windows, the sun burning smooth the tops of the golden tables as if they had been freshly painted--that made me restless with the need to grab up every book, press into every single mind right there on the open shelves.” A variety of services is available in the Rose Reading Room. Books requested in the Bill Blass Public Catalog Room are delivered here. Patrons can request books from the Library’s stacks, Annex, or off-site storage facility and, in most instances, arrange for copies of their material in the photocopy area. Readers can consult the open-shelf reference collection, which includes standard works in all fields collected by the Division, as well as general resources such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, biographies, and indexes; since this collection alone encompasses over twenty-five thousand volumes, it is more comprehensive than the holdings of many smaller libraries and can be used either as a starting point for research or an easy-access resource in its own right. Patrons with their own laptops can connect for free to the Internet through the Library's Wi-Fi connection or laptop docking service. Computers providing access to the Internet are also available in the South Hall of the Rose Main Reading Room. Patrons can also use public computers that provide access to electronic databases, full-text electronic journals, and literary texts that the Library subscribes to made possible by the integration of new technology in a room almost a century old.

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