And the Winner Is…

Thank you to everyone who participated in last week’s poll to choose the next read for my book club. The book I hoped would win (These is My Words by Nancy Turner–I have read another of her books and loved it) didn’t win, but I am pretty sure I’ll be reading all the books on the list eventually. And, of course, I’ll review each one and keep you posted on the last Tuesday of each month.

The winner is Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland. The story actually takes place in Atlantic City, which is about ten miles from my house as the crow flies. When I go for a walk in the evenings I can see the casinos lit up on the horizon.

Now on to my main topic for today. As many of you know, I am currently working on the second book in my Libraries of the World Mystery series, which uses special library collections from around the world to commit or solve crimes. In the first book in the series, Trudy’s Diary, the main character (Daisy) helps solve a crime in the present day by using the dime novel collection in the Library of Congress to solve a related mystery that took place in the 1800s.

In the second book, Dutch Treat, Daisy is working as an associate professor at a college in New York City while she’s on sabbatical from her job at Global Human Rights Journal in Washington, D.C. When one of her colleagues is murdered, Daisy is drawn into the search for the killer and discovers some fascinating information about her own family’s background in New Amsterdam, long before the city became known as New York.

New York Public Library, Library, Books, Manhattan

In my research for the book, I’ve done a lot of reading about the New York City Public Library. Today I’m going to share my top ten favorite facts about the library.

  1. When the New York City Public Library opened in 1911, it was the world’s largest marble building. Its exterior walls are 12 inches thick and builders used 530,000 cubic feet of marble to construct the magnificent edifice.
  2. The two lions guarding the front entrance to the library on the corner of 42nd Street and 5th Avenue, Patience and Fortitude, are both males. Their original names are Lord Lennox and Lady Astor.
  3. And speaking of the lions, Teddy Roosevelt was not happy with the choice of mammal to grace the library’s entrance. His vote? Buffaloes. He wanted animals that would symbolize the American West.
  4. In 1987, the original Winnie-the-Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, and Kanga became permanent residents of the library.
  5. In the early years after the library opened, it took 20 tons of coal per day to heat the building.
  6. In one of the library’s collections, you will find Charles Dickens’ favorite letter opener. The tool consits of an ivory shaft topped with the embalmed paw of Dickens’ favorite cat, Bob.
  7. Lions aren’t the only animals featured in the library’s architecture. There are also dolphins, catfish, oxen, turtles, snakes, birds, rams, bees, dogs, eagles, swans, and roosters.
  8. In 1911 all the employees of the library were given rubber-soled shoes to wear at work because the marble floors were so hard on feet!
  9. If you’ve ever wondered where you might find a lock of Charlotte Brontë’s hair, you’ve come to the right place (likewise the hair of Wild Bill Hickok, Walt Whitman, and Mary Shelley).
  10. The New York City Public Library has the fourth largest collection of volumes in the United States. The library with the largest holdings is the Library of Congress, followed in order by the Boston Public Library and the Harvard Library.

Which is your favorite fun fact? Have you ever visited the New York City Public Library?

Until next time,


21 thoughts on “And the Winner Is…”

  1. The facts are fascinating. I really thought about what makes a good library (to me) as I read your post. I realized that it’s not the building (although I’ve studied in/visited some amazing library buildings, from big ones like the Boston and the NYC Library to small town libraries, like the first one I visited when I was a child in my hometown. But surprisingly, the things that matter most to me in choosing the library to go to (and I’m lucky, because where I live I have five choices within 20 miles of my home, and more choices just a little further away) are (1) the staff. Yes, the people who work in the library, from the big-wig librarian to the resource librarians to those who check out our books to the volunteers. A library has an “aura,” and the staff has a lot to do with a positive, happy environment. Where I chose to go, the staff are so friendly. Smiles always. Suggestions if I ask. And then they ask me for MY opinion. They make the library a happy positive place to visit. I’ve visited gorgeous libraries, even famous ones, in which the staff are stand-offish, even a bit arrogant, and intimidating. Those are NOT my choices to visit. (2) Book accessibility. A good library staff set up “stations” for books- “historical fiction,” contemporary fiction, new non-fiction, local authors, local subjects, etc. So easy to find the type of book I’m looking for.


    1. Your comment has me thinking about the libraries around here. There are definitely differences in the staff. Probably the best library staff around are in the Ocean City library and the Cape May Court House library. That’s as much as I’ll say, but you’re right—great staff make all the difference when it comes to using the library. And book accessibility is important, too. Our county libraries are not as good about setting up stations for fiction books, but I suppose that has more to do with the cataloguing system than anything else. Again, Ocean City does a bit better job with that. At least they have new releases set up in a special section for readers.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s such a nice library. I love the set-up, but now that there are no seats, it’s a little less user-friendly, obviously. And I certainly understand that it has to be that way for now.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The fun facts were so interesting, Amy. The 20 tons of coal isn’t the most unusual fact, but it caught my attention. Wow. And buffalo would have been cool. I’m with Teddy on that. 😀 Fascinating post.


    1. Thanks, Diana. It’s been so much fun to learn more about the library. I am reading a book right now called The Lions of Fifth Avenue and the family in the book lives inside the library, in the superintendent’s apartment. How cool would it be to live in a place like that??

      Liked by 1 person

  3. your series sounds quite intriguing; I like those fun facts, my favorite is the names of the two lions. I can see why Teddy would have wanted an animal that represented America – Buffalo would have been a good choice, as would an Eagle…

    By the way, came across your site thanks to Pete Springer…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Jim,

      Glad to hear that you visited courtesy of Pete Springer’s site—thanks for the info.

      I’ve enjoyed doing the research for this series because I’ve been able to learn about both the libraries and their special collections.

      You’re right about the eagles! They would be pretty cool mascots for the library. I think it might have been Ben Franklin who argued that the national emblem of the US should be a turkey. Not sure how they would look in marble. 😊 Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The library is fascinating, like so many things in NYC. I lived there for about five years, and that wasn’t enough time to see all the very cool stuff in the city. The library is a great place to visit. I hope you get there someday!


  4. Fascinating facts. I’ve never had the opportunity to visit the NYPL. Would have loved to have seen Dicken’s letter opener, embalmed cat’s paw and all. Hope the work is progressing on your mystery. I very much enjoyed Trudy’s Diary and am looking forward to the second book in the series.


    1. Thanks, Phyllis. It’s been a while since I was in that library, but it’s really something to see. I just love those lions out front.

      Thanks also for your kind words about Trudy’s Diary. I’ve had an epiphany about Dutch Treat and I’m hoping the writing will go more smoothly after today.

      Hope all is well with you!


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