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The West Farms Library


This is a rare picture, from the WWI era, of the West Farms Branch of the New York Public LIbrary. It was my first library, where my mother took me for my first library card, when I was about 6 and able to write my name. It was up in a storefront on 180th street. The checkout desk was at the front of the store, where a librarian sat with her back to the store window. To her right was the children's section, where I eventually began to feel increasingly confined but where I had to wait until I was 12 to cross over into the rest of the store. The boy in knickers at the right, that might have been me.

Below is a picture of the West Farms library today. The current building, shown below, was put up in 1954 and recently renovated. Truthfully, I don't remember its being built. I was already half way through C.C.N.Y., and when I used a public library it was the 42nd Street library. In comparing the old and the new, what stands out for me is not the row of computer terminals, but the difference in space and light. The new library is open and bright, the old library narrow, cramped, but suffused, in my memory, with a wonderful quiet gloom that made going to the library like a tripĀ  undersea where you held your breath in expectation.

as computers invade libraries, people line up to use them

the_bronx/tower/library.txt · Last modified: 2008/04/04 06:50 (external edit)
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