Tag Archives: New York Public Library

the museum … the library


The late William S. (Bill) Dalzell was a very important and valued friend to me, beginning in my twenties when I first came to New York.

We worked at the same place, 218 East 18th Street — technically not for the same employer, since Bill was a self-employed printer.

We hit it off immediately. Bill (as I turned out to be) was a lover of his adopted city. He grew up in Williamsburg, a suburb of Pittsburgh.

He had many pregnant thoughts. We had such interesting conversations.

He was a confirmed bachelor and a creature of habit.

He never worked on weekends.

On Saturday mornings, he would go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He would begin in the cafeteria, nursing a cup of coffee and lost in thought.

He said that for him the museum was like a cathedral. It had that effect on him mentally. Either explicitly or implicitly, he was also thinking of Norte Dame Cathedral. He had been there several times and said it was “the holiest place” he had ever visited.

Which brings to mind the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue.

It has that effect on me. The beautiful building. The interior. The high ceilings and sunlight streaming through. The staff. The “serious,” “dedicated” sense of purpose and calm quietness. The calming and focusing effect it has on me mentally.


— posted by Roger W. Smith

   October 2022

“a way to avoid death”


I saw the documentary film Ex Libris, directed by Frederick Wiseman, today. The film, which is about the New York Public Library, has just been released.

In one particular scene, a discussion group at the library’s main branch on Fifth Avenue is engaged in a lively exchange of views about a book (naturally): Love in the Time of Cholera (Spanish: El amor en los tiempos del cólera) by Gabriel García Márquez. (I recognized the librarian conducting the discussion. The library is like a second home to me, and this librarian has assisted me with queries and more mundane matters related to using the library for research.)

As is noted in a Wikipedia entry, “The novel examines romantic love in myriad forms. … García Márquez’s main notion is that lovesickness is literally an illness, a disease comparable to cholera.”

This idea was batted around in the discussion group seen in the film. The compulsive pursuit of love in old age by one of the main characters was brought up. Several participants in the discussion said that they were in their seventies.

A young man spoke up and posed a rhetorical question, followed by his own answer.

“What is love?” he asked. “It’s a way to avoid death. For as long as you can.”


— Roger W. Smith

  September 16, 2017

New York Public Library


Below are photographs of the main research library, New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Fifth Avenue between 40th and 42nd Streets, New York, NY.

A wonderful place — to visit; to do research; to find books that are long out of print; to read and reflect; to restore one’s sanity.

There’s no other public library like it.

Attracts readers and visitors from everywhere, yet never feels crowded.

Open and welcoming to all. No fees or permissions required.

Knowledgeable staff ready and eager to serve you.

Incredible resources.


— posted by Roger W. Smith




photographs by Roger W. Smith



Pete's version, modified by Roger, of Aug 15 NYPL photo.jpg

main reading room - NYPL 1-28-2019.jpg

main reading room, NYPL 12-6-2018



New York Public Library 3-4-2019.jpg

42nd Street in the rain


42nd Street, April 11, 2016.JPG


I took this photo in April 2016 on 42nd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Manhattan is a wonderful place.

The New York Public Library — a surprisingly uncrowded, peaceful facility that invites study and scholarship, that welcomes and affords pleasure to the user, and that is staffed by knowledgeable librarians ready to assist you — is to the left.


— posted by Roger W. Smith

    June 2016