How did one of the world’s great public research libraries nearly destroy itself?
That question is central to Scott Sherman’s superlative book, Patience and Fortitude, now in paperback.
A gripping account of the David versus Goliath story about citizens fighting to take back their library, Sherman’s book describes in vivid detail the enormous efforts to halt NYPL’s ill-conceived plan to sell two libraries and cripple the research functions of the central humanities library on 42nd Street. More than just an investigation into the bureaucratic morass at the heart of the New York Public Library, it serves as a blueprint for mobilizing a successful citizen-led grassroots campaign.
With the paperback edition hot off the press, now’s the perfect time to delve into the story of what The Atlantic has called the fiercest preservation battle since the proposed demolition of Grand Central. Grab your copy directly from the publisher or your local independent bookseller.
In honor of this occasion, Melville House has put together some thoughts from CSNYPL organizers about lessons learned from the library fight. And be sure to check out Sherman’s recent article in The Nation!
Mid-Manhattan Library was always an awkward name, it does not trip off the tongue as Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library will.
But NYPL has a way with euphonious acronyms, think of ReCAP, MaRLI, SIBL and our favorites – the Bryant Park Storage Extension (BPSE), pronounced Bipsey and the electronic catalog (CATNYP), pronounced Catnip. We never liked the name of the Steven A. Schwarzman Building (SASB), pronounced Sasby.
It is a whole new world now and we have a chance at some new names. Mid-Manhattan will become SNFL or Sniffle, and it will need a companionable name across 5th Avenue. Perhaps the structures of acronyms and phonetics are sufficiently elastic to allow us to rename the Central Library (Schwarzman Library) as SWZL. Then we can have Sniffle and Swizzle guarding the flanks of 5th Avenue as Patience and Fortitude guard the entrance to what sensible people still call the Central Library.
That leaves only the newly fitted out underground storage to be renamed for its donor. The Milstein Underground Storage Facility might be called Mustafa.