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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Introducing the Children’s Center at 42nd Street

It’s what they call in the business a "soft" opening.  Not a lot of hullaballoo at first.  You just open the doors and wait for people to wander in.

About a half a year ago, as some of you might recall, I was desperately worried about the potential fate of New York Public Library’s Central Children’s Room.  Through a series of steps that I will be happy to relate in my memoirs someday a place was secured for the room and in a location I could only have dreamed of.  Now my front door has gone from a perfectly serviceable this:

To this:

As you might imagine, I am elated with the change.  I work with the lions.  I get to work with the lions.  I am arguably in the most famous library in America and I work with the friggin’ LIE-ONS.  Patience and Fortitude are my co-workers.

Well, I’m a lucky duck to say the least.  It’s not every children’s librarian that finds his or herself in this situation.  Not that "we" as a collection weren’t here at the start.  This collection originated in this building.  It was only when we ran out of room in the 60s that we moved to Donnell.  The proof?  Here was the Children’s Room in this building back in 1913:

That was then.  This room is now actually just down the hall from our current location.  A location that looks just a little something like this:

Yep.  That’s a flat screen tv. 

Note: Actual desk much brighter and greener than pictured above.

If you look closely at the bookshelves above and then look at the shelves in the second of the black and white pictures, you will notice that they are one and the same.  Original shelving, all the way.

The original room had window seats.  No seats in this room, so we’ve had to put in couches instead.  It should be effective and cozy anyway, though.

The effect is startling, isn’t it?  And if you look out the window at the back of the room you can even see the ice skaters in Bryant Park:

We even have a mural by one Susy Pilgrim Waters, seen here:

At first we weren’t certain that she’d done any children’s literature work, but after some digging it was discovered that she was responsible for the cover of Ruth White’s Way Down Deep.  Which is neat.

Want to come on by?  We are open every day of the week (check our hours here and we are open when the rest of the library is) and anyone can drop by.  After Thanksgiving we will be having one slambang humdinger of an opening.  We’ll have Chris Raschka, and live owls, and a play version of Pinkalicious and all KINDS of stuff.  So stop on by! I’ll be here.  And we’re easy to find.  Just come to 5th Avenue and 42nd Street.  Walk to the ONLY entrance on the 42nd Street side.  Take an immediate right and voila!  Instant Children’s Center. 

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Beth kephart says:

    Heartfelt congratulations. Such good news could not come at a better time.

  2. That’s so funny, I was scrolling past the pictures quickly and had a flash of WAY DOWN DEEP and went back to see if it was prominently displayed somewhere, but no. But of course it was Susy’s wonderful murals that I was responding to! I believe she also did a paperback of ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT’S ME MARGARET but maybe I am thinking of someone else…

  3. Stacy DeKeyser says:

    Congratulations!! I can’t wait to see it. The Library is one of the places I always stop at when I’m in the city, and now there’s even one more reason!

  4. Those lions are also known as Lord and Lady Astor (though they are both male) and Uptown and Downtown.

    Give them a soft back-of-the-throat growl for me.


  5. Thanks for the update. As someone who has happily visited both your old and new libraries many times, I can’t wait to stop by and see it in person. Does you collection circulate? And is everything that was hidden in the stacks at Donnell now hidden under Bryant Park? And what about Pooh? Is he close at hand?

  6. boni ashburn says:

    It’s beautiful!! I’d love to go there some day.

  7. What will you-all be showing on the flat-screen TV? We’ve been thinking of putting one in our children’s room, but I’m a little eh on the whole thing.

  8. Oh, that’s GLORI-OUS! One couldn’t hope for a more wonderful space. *sigh* Wished we had the luck to have such a lovely place as our library. :)

  9. victoria thorne says:

    OH! This makes me want to come back to New York, and see you, and not get lost in the rain this time (I was just a few months early, I suppose, as this is where I thought you were and wandered about daftly until I realized you were not). CONGRATULATIONS! I am so happy to think of you and all these wondrous books here! It’s just too marvelous, too marvelous for words. Now, to book that trip back & see you with the lions…

  10. Bibliovore says:

    Wah! Library envy! For that storytime room alone, with the Cat in the Hat and the cushy cushions, I would sell major bodily organs.

  11. That is so book.

  12. Mitali Perkins says:

    Oh the richness! I remember discovering the NYPL children’s room when I first arrived in America. We were allowed seven books a week, and we went every Saturday like clockwork. Congratulations and bon voyage.

  13. Sara O'Leary says:

    What a perfectly feathered nest for you!
    I hope to pop in for a visit one day.

  14. Thanks everyone! Yes, we circulate. We are the first circulating part of the main branch, in fact. Everything from the old room is in this new building. The reference materials have merely been placed with the adult reference materials on the third floor. Winnie-the-Pooh… we don’t know. We’d like him but there may be a conservation issue with our bright lighting. We’re looking into it. And the tv is for our monthly game nights. And public performance right programs too, I suppose. Needless to say, we haven’t done anything with it yet.

  15. HOORAY!!!! All the Best to the Saraswatis (Indian goddess of the arts, sciences, poets, musicians, teachers, librarians!).
    What a wonderful temple for the goddess. And selfishly, much easier for me to get to by subway.

  16. ps
    Saraswati has a magical totem animal, a Bird! Go, Bird!

  17. So cool. I love a happy ending. Congrats.

  18. Sarah Chauncey says:

    Congratulations on advocating for this beautiful space. This is spaces that says we value children. The children will feel it when they visit. What a gift.
    Sarah Chauncey
    Library Media Specialist
    Grandview Elementary School

  19. Julie Cummins says:

    Thanks Betsy, for sharing the photos of past and present. I know that former Children’s Coordinators would be pleased to have the home for the Children’s Room back where it began and history was in the making. Pooh and friends rule! Those of us who can’t “walk in” can bee-line in to one of the premier children’s rooms and see renewed history at work.
    Thanks, Julie Cummins, former Coordinator, Children’s Services, New York Public Library

  20. Alan Silberberg says:

    Wowzer! How fantastic and magical for you (and all of NYC!) Now if only you can find Lisa Yee’s “Peepy” – all will be right in the kidlit world!

    Maybe the Lions know something….

  21. Miriam Lang Budin says:

    I’m so glad the Central Children’s Room is back where it belongs–in the center of everything!

  22. Alan Alan, you must have faith. I assure you that the story of Peepy is not yet concluded. But read Lisa Yee to find out why . . .