Library Ticket

I bet you think I’ve been tripping the light fantastic these past few weeks and that’s why you haven’t heard from me. Well, not exactly. But I have been somewhere exciting, A veritable event I’d call it. It cost me no cab fare nor board and lodgings. There was no membership fee and the scenery was extraordinary. There was no dress code to speak of, although I did make an effort to represent, and no one tries to pick you up just because you’re sitting alone.IMG_4340

And not to make you feel bad but I was honored to be among the most brilliant company. Scintillating.
Can you guess where I was..?IMG_4351

That was a bit of a red herring.

Let’s walk to the end of the block…

Alright, of course! I was in the  New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue. I was sequestered away in their Map Room. IMG_4289

This was one of the pair of bouncers guarding the door. His name is Patience and his partner on the other side of the steps is Fortitude.

Who needs the Met Ball when you have the “Library Ticket”? It’s an event open to all. The VIP guest list, featured everyone from rock stars to actresses to inventors, all seated together at large wooden tables softly lit with green reading lamps, individuals wittier and more charismatic than Beyoncé, Anna Wintour or Kanye (although that wouldn’t be hard).IMG_4325

Here are some snippets overheard as I mingled under the marble and murals. I took a few snaps as well.

KATHERINE HEPBURN: “What in the world would we do without our libraries?”

MARK TWAIN: “In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.”  IMG_4315

NATALIE PORTMAN: “I think the New York Public Library is so, so amazing. It’s literally the coolest place – It’s good shelter from the sun and it’s the most beautiful building. It’s really, really fun.”

KEITH RICHARDS: “When you are growing up there are two institutional places that affect you most powerfully: the church, which belongs to God, and the public library, which belongs to you.” IMG_4334

FRANK ZAPPA: “If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library.”

VIRGINIA WOOLF: “Anyone who’s worth anything reads just what he likes, as the mood takes him, and with extravagant enthusiasm.”


DAVID FOSTER WALLACE: “I read, I study and read. I bet I’ve read everything you’ve read. Don’t think I haven’t. I consume libraries. I wear out spines and ROM drives. I do things like get in a taxi and say, “The library, and step on it.”

VIRGINIA WOOLF: “I ransack public libraries, and find them full of sunk treasure.”

STEPHEN FRY: “Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators.”

DOCTOR WHO: “You want weapons? We’re in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world! This room’s the greatest arsenal we could have – arm yourselves!”

Ready, aim, fire!

Ready, aim, fire!

ALBERT EINSTEIN: “The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.” IMG_4481

MALCOLM X: “My alma mater was books, a good library.”

OPRAH WINFREY: “Getting my library card was like citizenship; it was like American citizenship.”IMG_4478

CECIL B. DE MILLE: “Now, public libraries are most admirable institutions, but they have one irritating custom. They want their books back.”

ZADIE SMITH: “What a good library offers cannot be easily found elsewhere: an indoor public space in which you do not have to buy anything in order to stay.”IMG_4476

JAMES JOYCE: “Coffined thoughts around me, in mummycases, embalmed in spice of words. Thoth, god of libraries, a birdgod, moonycrowned. And I heard the voice of that Egyptian highpriest. In painted chambers loaded with tilebooks. They are still. Once quick in the brains of men. Still: but an itch of death is in them, to tell me in my ear a maudlin tale, urge me to wreak their will.”

C.S. LEWIS: “I am a product of endless books”

IMG_4485T.S. ELIOT: The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man.”

J.K. ROWLING: “When in doubt, go to the library.”IMG_4469

SALMAN RUSHDIE: “If knowledge is power, then the public library system gives that power to anyone who wants it.”

ALAIN DE BOTTON: “It’s in walking into a library that most people first get the sense of how little they know.”IMG_4472

SAUL BELLOW: “People can lose their lives in libraries. They ought to be warned.”
Oop, look who the cat dragged in! Just as the affair was getting into full swing, in they tottered, upping the couture quotient and getting quite raucous on cocktails…

Sex and the City's ill-fated marriage was set to happen in the library. Instead the bride clobbered the potential groom over the head with her bouquet on the street outside.

Sex and the City’s ill-fated marriage was set to happen in the library. Instead the would-be bride clobbered the potential groom over the head with her bouquet on the street outside.

TO DELIVER THE PARTING ADDRESS, AGAIN, ZADIE SMITH:  “Defend our libraries. We like libraries. Can we keep our libraries? We need to talk about libraries. Pleading, like children. Is that really where we are?”

My novel Silk for the Feed Dogs is available here. No, well spotted, it’s not a library, the books aren’t free, but they cost less than in the book stores and you don’t have to return them.


  1. Glad you went! Anything productive developed?
    Did you ice skate in the park?

    • Me too! No ice skating for me, I’m afraid. I’m just not very good at winter sports and activities. I was productive however. The Rose room is closed for renovation at the moment which is a shame as I do love it there. But then I wouldn’t have discovered the Map Room 🙂

  2. Great pictures and quotes. I haven’t been to the NYC public library but I love the one in Boston. It’s another grand building like this one.

  3. Beautiful! That is the one library I have on my list to visit one day! You are so lucky to be so near!

  4. Thanks for the tour. I love that you ended with the girls….the joy of that turquoise “bird” just visible on the stairs…..the bouquet bashing scene was one of my favourites. I always felt it’s the equivalent of pouring a pint over the errant male down the pub!…..must add the library to my to do in NY list. X

    • Oh, j’adored the bird! That was a scene from a Greek tragedy.
      I actually have poured a pint over someone in the past but it was irresponsible and while I was in the throes of early-20s melodrama. But on the right candidate who am I to judge..? 🙂

  5. Haha, the good Doctor knows how to wise us up! Time may or may not be rewritten but I’d certainly spend a lot of it here! Too bad the main reading room was closed indefinitely for inspection when we were there in June. Next time… xxx

  6. The pictures were eye candy and the quotes so witty and wise. Thank you bunches for this, Jackie. I once visited the Reading Room at the Library of Congress and it was awesome. Still, I miss the small, one-room library that I frequented when I was a teenager. It was just a short walk from my house and every summer I would spend afternoons there, browsing through books and magazines, getting some cool shelter on hot days.

    • No, thank you! I love to hear of people’s formative experiences of libraries especially if they discovered them early. I too hung out for hours in my small local branch. I thought it held vast worlds but it was actually tiny and there weren’t that many shelves. What did I know? It’ s one of the most important buildings in a town, even more so if the town is small. As Keith said, it’s that and the church!

  7. Jackie! I forgot to tell you (sorry, I’m working this really intense editor/journalism job that’s sucking up ALL of my time but, hee, hee, I’m socking the money away and have my exit plan firmly in place). Anyway, my partner’s sister came up from Haines last month and devoured “Silk for the Feed Dogs” in less than two days. She loved it and I think she wanted to keep it but I selfishly snatched it back, lol. Cheers and hope you’re busy writing, writing, writing.

    • Hi Cinthia,
      Good to hear from you! And thrilled to hear your partner’s sister loved the book. Maybe she would be kind enough to write a little Amazon review? Hope your editorship is fun as well and stimulating and that you’re getting a wee bit of writing time in. It does sound intriguing and glamourous!
      My work schedule has become more intense too and writing time is tight. Plus making our new apartment habitable. It’s amazing how fast weeks go! The writing fairy that sits on my shoulder has just three words for me: War. On. Art.
      Oh, pipe down , you little mouthpiece..!

  8. This visual catalogue of citations speaks beyond its physical boundaries and virtually soaks my mind in every thought of the characters and the theme. There’s my concentration gone for the day!

  9. Or did it in fact inspire you to try and get on the guest list for next “Library Ticket”? With your persuasive way with words, you’d glide past Patience and Fortitude without breaking stride and be communing with Keith Richards and James Joyce before you’d even removed your coat.

  10. How utterly stunning. elegant and beguiling..I can smell it from here.. xxx

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