Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Sacking a Palace of Culture
Make that three epiphanies. My earliest was an awareness that the profile of the guy next to me in the microfilm reading area (nobly illumined by the refraction of an image he had selected, focused and enlarged) was that of Arthur Miller. What might such a distinguished cardholder be studying with such absorption? I passed behind him and sneaked a peek. It was an old news article about Marilyn Monroe. Illustrated, natch. Something about the stillness of his shoulders touched me. Great playwright and aspiring hack, we were searching together in the city’s principal repository of memory.
It was with a surge of emotion, therefore, that I read newspaper reports about the determination of Anthony W. Marx, the president of the library, to spend $300 million to transform the main building, long devoted to reference, into what sounds like a palace of presentism. He wants to close the library system’s biggest circulating branch, the Mid-Manhattan (located just across the street) and the Science, Industry and Business Library (also in Midtown) and somehow wedge their contents into the already overstocked central research library.