Alfred Kazin at the NYPL

"It fascinated me....to do my reading and thinking in that asylum and church of the unemployed; of crazy ideologists and equally crazy Bible students doggedly writing "YOU LIE" in the reference books on the open shelvers; of puzzle fans searching every encyclopedia; of commission salesmen secretly tearing address lists out of city directories." (p.7).

New York Jew by Alfred Kazin [Knopf, 1978] begins with his description of working on his book, On Native Grounds , at the New York Public Library.

"great yellow tables, somehow always smelling of varnish"

"On Diffusion of Education among the people rest the preservation and perpetuation of our free institutions."

"Whenever I was free to read, the great Library seemed free to receive me."

"I..would dash up those steps ...past the enormous wall painting "Blind Milton Dictating Paradise Lost to his daughters"...and finally arrive at the great cataloge room lined wall to wall with trays of endlessly thumbed cards."