When looking at the elaborate architecture that composes the 42nd street Mid-Manhattan Public Library, my eyes float over the marble steps where the iconically carved lions have rested for 107 years.
Patience and Fortitude – these are the names Mayor Fiorello La Guardia gave the lions to represent the qualities he felt New Yorkers would need to survive the economic depression during the 1930s. Just as I watched these lions, these lions have watched the city as it has shapeshifted into today’s society.
In addition to being a place to read books, the library has served to be a community for locals and tourists coming from all across the world. Just the other day, I witnessed the beautiful “Protests in Print” exhibit. In an effort to represent their experiences, the artists of these curated pieces used a radical method of art to exemplify personal expression and social justice activism starting in the late 19th century.
New York City’s Public Library is a prominent historic landmark in Manhattan with endless opportunities, but even the most cultured New Yorkers are unaware of the extent to which these opportunities reach.
Ricci Yuhico, this library’s managing librarian, is a key developer of the young adult department. As a vital contributor to the Teen Zone, Yuhico ensures that it is a safe space for welcoming anyone with just the mere interest for wanting to be there.
“Here in New York City there are so many great resources offered for youth, but even then, it’s important to have a safe public space for you guys,” he said. “First and foremost, we want it to be a place for you to come and just be yourself. To be a place where you can pursue your own interests of your own volition.”
As I walk through the library, I can clearly see that there is an endless amount of on-site resources, such as introductory digital media equipment ranging from microphones, cameras, a green screen, and lighting kits. Most importantly, the positivity and kindness spread through the young adult services at the library are immense.
“Even around the holiday time, we show a holiday-themed movie, we have hot chocolate and make gingerbread houses, and it’s a packed room where your peers are people you wouldn’t know in school,” Yuhico said. “These are people from all different schools, all different walks of life, and the really cool thing about the library is that it brings all of these people together.”
Every Friday at 4 p.m. a self-harm prevention support group meeting called “Stop The Barcode” takes place in the Teen Zone. Led by teens for teens, the support group is open to anyone who wishes to stop by. The great thing about the library is that their programs are nonrestrictive and completely welcoming. The environment where “Stop The Barcode” takes place is relaxed and comfortable for anyone to drop in to join the group, hang out, and meet others who want to take the next step to get better.
This incredible program can be discovered through word of mouth or the NYPL website and attracts countless people. The New York Public Library’s staff puts in their full effort to encourage youth as well as adults to develop themselves into active and positive members of society. The abundance of uplifting programs provided by the library is inspiring the people of the city to advance themselves in ways which are undoubtedly making society a kinder place.
To think that in this city there is a place to congregate and explore interests free of charge is mind-boggling. The trend seems to be that people like having libraries around. The internet may have stolen the monopoly on knowledge, but it can’t recreate a sense of place. In this way, revival is possible. It is vital for awareness about these programs be spread to encourage the public to take advantage of the multitude of opportunities provided. In turn, these opportunities are what develops us into the interesting and diverse people that make up the city of Manhattan.