The Committee to Save the New York Public Library has a powerful new literary weapon. Renowned British artist and Committee member Simon Verity has penned a modern-day fable, The Library of Libraries. It satirizes the Central Library Plan as a sleight-of-hand by those who envision a high-tech showpiece at the main 42nd Street library on Fifth Avenue rather than a great research institution.
A limited edition print run of 1,000 copies of the book is available in select NYC independent bookstores (including Book Culture, Crawford Doyle Booksellers, and Left Bank Books) for $5.00 each. It is also available as an ebook on Amazon. Proceeds from book sales will help fund the Committee to Save the New York Public Library’s ongoing opposition to the library’s multi-pronged plan of destruction and downsizing.
Verity, who both wrote and illustrated the short satire, is a celebrated British stone sculptor and artist who, in the 1990s, transformed the west portal of New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine into a “Portal of Paradise” with his magnificent statues. His The Library of Libraries tells the tale of the library’s takeover by city counselors, portrayed here as rhinoceros. These thick-hided power brokers proclaim to the public that books are passé and that what the city really needs is modern razzle-dazzle on 42nd Street. “The old shelves can be ripped out,” they say. “Imagine the huge space we can make for the people. They will celebrate that we are the most brilliant and the most generous of all the people that have ever lived.” After all, what’s scholarship matter when you can have sizzle? “We will tell them that a modern masterpiece is in store for them right in the center of this tired old building.”
Meanwhile Patience and Fortitude, the library’s stone lions, watch in horror as orders are given to cart away the books. They shudder as preparation begins to rip out the stacks, the great support system of the library that was designed by fabled architects Carrère and Hastings. Finally, Fortitude the lion speaks: “Rich men want people to think they are wonderful, but if their ideas are wrong, they can easily walk away from a city they have ruined. They can buy stone lions and put them in their gardens to protect their money. They don’t understand that this is the heart of the whole City, and without it the City will die…”