This wonderful library has been on my radar since I first visited New York, a city well-known for its beautiful buildings, famous museums and great libraries (think of the New York Public Library and the special collections in the Pierpont Morgan Museum.) The Reed Foundation Library in Poets House is in Lower Manhattan, near Battery Park. I love it because of its atmosphere: warm, welcoming, spacious. There are leather couches, big windows with views over the Hudson River and shelves and shelves of poetry books. An independent, not-for-profit organization, it’s open to the public and it’s free.
In many ways, the library in Poets House exemplifies the best features of modern libraries. It has an extensive print collection (50, 000 volumes including books, chapbooks and literary journals) and uses digital technology to enhance its services. Closely allied with the work of its parent organization, the library participates in a range of programmes ( from readings and conversations to exhibitions, workshops and the annual Poetry Walk across Brooklyn Bridge). It also offers a lovely, relaxing community space, the ‘third place’ that is said to be so important in our frenetically busy societies. The experienced staff are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the collection.
I can think of worse things to do with my leisure time than sitting in a comfortable armchair, drinking good coffee and reading from a book of poetry…
See also the virtual Australian Poetry Library.