Reading and Parks

A powerful piece by Rosamund Urwin in The Standard on Thursday 26th Feb about libraries and parks headed ‘Our libraries and parks should never be under threat.’  To quote: “Libraries and parks: temples for the mind and fillips for the spirit. They’re public places where you’re a citizen, not a customer. Both can be refuges when you want to be alone, yet they glue communities together: you sit or walk beside those of of different ages, different experiences, different levels of sanity. Parks are slivers of green in a grey city, a shot of the wild in the metropolis. Libraries are bearers of civilisation. She describes her own fortunate book-filled childhood: “It’s the child in the bookless flat who needs the library and the park far more.” And quotes Cicero: “If you have a garden and a library you have everything you need.”

Here’s a picture of library in a park, Bryant Park Reading Room in New York which started in 1935 as a public response to the Depression Era job losses in New York. Many people had nowhere to go during the day, and no prospects for jobs. The New York Public Library opened the “Open Air Library” to give these out-of-work businessmen and intellectuals a place to go where they did not need money, a valid address, a library card, or any identification to enjoy the reading materials. It’s thriving to this day.

Bryant Park Reading Room




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