Friday, August 7, 2015

Bryant Park Reading Room

It never ceases to amaze me that no matter how well I think I know an area of Manhattan there always seems to be something new to discover - or at least new-to-me. I've been to Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan many times over the years, but it seems not during the summer months otherwise I surely would have already known about the Reading Room. 

From April to October a section at the north-east side of the park becomes a mini outdoor library with a tented space for workshops and talks and a more informal sitting area for reading. Every day, except Sunday, there is a lunchtime or evening session aimed at readers or writers, plus special programs for children. Most of the events take place between June and August so sadly I've missed most of this season's offerings.    
The original idea for the Reading Room was born in 1935 as a place for those out-of-work to have access to reading materials at no cost and without the need for identification or library cards, but by 1944 the economy had improved to the point where it was no longer deemed necessary. 
Bryant Park underwent extensive renovations in the early 1990's turning the park from what had become a no-go area into a popular spot for locals and visitors alike and in 2003 it was decided to re-open the Reading Room.

the classics

Now mobile carts offer readers a range of classic and contemporary books as well as newspapers and magazines, all donated by the publishers. 
contemporary novels
 And there's even a children's section too. 

What a wonderful way to encourage reading for all ages. A great place to while away a sunny hour or two. I can't believe it has taken me this long to discover it. And it makes me wonder whether other cities have a similar set-up. Are there any outdoor libraries in your city?

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