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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In 1987, the original Winnie-the-Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, and Kanga became permanent residents of the library.
- In the early years after the library opened, it took 20 tons of coal per day to heat the building.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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).
- 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,