Friday, November 25, 2011

The "New" New-York Historical Society Library

Today, I used the "new" library for the first time since it closed for renovations in June. The carpets are new, the reference desk is new, the chairs are new. The lamps all have curly-fries bulbs installed.

Something else is new, too. You cannot bring paper into the library. It is not possible to bring a sheet of paper or index card into the reading room. Users may only bring in laptops, cell phones, and digital cameras.

Read this; click on the image to enlarge it.

I cannot imagine why a library would not welcome people who use their notes for research. Not everyone owns a laptop (me!), can afford to buy one, or cares to work on one in a library. Nor can anyone remember every detail they want to research: names, dates, places. Obviously, I am not a technological Luddite (here I am blogging), but I am amazed. When I asked why I couldn't bring a single sheet of paper into the Library, I was told that it was a new policy. But why? No one could tell me. Perhaps the head librarian will answer my email, eventually.

What is going on here? Does this strike anyone else as strange and perhaps a trifle Draconian? I'd love to know your thoughts.

Be prepared!


  1. Interesting indeed. I have another comment: I attended the opening night gala for Members. Walking across the Central Park, however, I realized I had left my cell phone at home. No problem, I thought, I'll ask at the event for the public phone, and call information for the number I wanted.

    Surprise! There is NO PUBLIC PHONE! So, I had to mooch from a couple of people off their cell phones! What is this world coming to!? All the world is now private?

  2. WOW -- that's something I didn't even think of, Bill! (Sandy and I were there than night, too, but what a crowd. I would have let you use my phone if I had seen you.) I cannot understand what the harm could be in a) having a public phone in a classic phone booth or b) allowing a person to bring in one sheet of paper. Who wants to carry a laptop all the time? I've send my comments to Christopher Gray at NY Times; he was crowing up a storm about the New New-York HS.