A few months ago the Donnel Library closed its doors. Since the 1955 the library on 53rd street has been a New York landmark. It stood across from MOMA and had one of the best film libraries in the city. Unfortunately, the City Of New York thought it would better serve the public as another midtown luxury hotel. Due to the bylaws establishing the library that space HAS to have a library, but due to loop holes, they are tearing it down, building the hotel and then shoving the library into the basement. I think the New York Times put it well when they said:
When the $220 million hotel opens, sometime in 2011, a new Donnell library will occupy part of the first floor and an underground area, coexisting with hotel guests paying $750 to $2,000 per night for a room.
I can’t believe how sad it is. I know that I love the internet, and part of my job is to digitize library books so they can be available online. But it is very troubling to see technology kill off libraries and newspapers (I am looking at you Tribune). So, as I mentioned my job is to digitize books. I work for The Internet Archive. Until October I worked in the Donnell Library and got to watch it go from a bustling location, to a party closed less frequented library, to basically a book store, to an empty shell of a building. Long after it closed we continued to work. Our last week there they really began ripping out it’s guts. Coincidentally on our last day I got my new camera and got to work an hour early, and stayed a little bit late, wondering all over the building collecting some memories of the fantastic place. It’s pretty horrifying to walk into a room with dust all over the floor, baby chairs all pushed into a corner, wires hanging from the celling, and realizing you are standing on a Winnie The Pooh poster.
I think I took some pretty amazing photos back in October. I am not sure why I have been holding onto to them for so long, but I think part of it was that I didn’t know if I could come up with a fitting eulogy for the place. I am pretty sure I didn’t but it is time to get them up. These images need to be seen. Also, if you are wondering, there are several shots of people in this gallery. They are my coworkers at Archive.org with the exception of our amazing West Indian security guard who I think we all miss.
Click here to see the full gallery of pictures. I have posted a lot of photos below, more than I normally do with a photo update, but I think there is more of an impact when you see a bunch at once.