18 August 2009

Midtown Lunch: Bites of NYPL's Future and Past

Seems there's no news but NYPL news these doggone summer days. I've no doubt other libraries will pick up the slack come September, but for now:

Ann Thornton has been named
interim Director of the New York Public Libraries, after previous Director David Ferriero was chosen, hand-of-Obama-style, as the latest Archivist of the United States.

Following last month's revelation that work on a new Donnell Library won't begin until 2011 (if ever), the NY Times Real Estate section recently featured an architectural examination of the shuttered, beloved NYPL branch. It seems a small group of preservationists have been lobbying the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Donnell's behalf. Not everyone is convinced.

The new Donnell had a facade of Spartan simplicity, about as warm as a jail cell. ... Writing in his column in The New Yorker in 1956, Lewis Mumford likened it to the careful, ordered facade of a high Renaissance palazzo, but one “cleansed of ornament.” For Mumford that was not necessarily a negative, but he found the “cheerless” Donnell a design of “assiduous anonymity.” The library, he wrote, “has very little to say, and is content with not saying it.”

Later, the reporter likens Donnell to boiled spinach, then quips, "however, that has never been a disqualifier for landmark status."

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