ife Behind the Stacks: The Secret Apartments of New York Libraries by Cait Etherington
For many book lovers, there is nothing more exciting than the idea of
a home library. What most of the city’s book lovers don’t know is that
until recently, there was an affordable way to fulfill the dream of a
home library—at least for book lovers who also happened to be handy with
In the early to mid twentieth century, the majority of the city’s libraries had live-in superintendents. Like the superintendents
who still live in many of the city’s residential buildings, these
caretakers both worked and lived in the buildings for which they were
responsible. This meant that for decades, behind the stacks, meals were
cooked, baths and showers were taken, and bedtime stories were read. And
yes, families living in the city’s libraries typically did have access
to the stacks at night—an added bonus if they happened to need a new
bedtime book after hours.
Included in this detailed historical article:
The New York Society Library, 53 East 79th Street
NYPL's Schwarzman Building, 476 5th Ave
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