News

NY Public Library To Attempt $317 Million Renovation

New York Public Library, CC/Wikipedia, Photo by David Iliff. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

Editor's Note:

Also in the news: a controversial book about Palestine for kids, unintentionally profane book covers, and more. Welcome to the Daily Blunt!

The main branch of the New York Public Library is a historic building and hub of research, and has become a destination for tourists worldwide thanks to cameos in films such as “Ghostbusters” (there have been many literary references as well, such as in James Baldwin’s Go Tell It On the Mountain). Keeping the building serviceable as well as glamorous has proven expensive over the years, but the Library has unveiled a new $317 million renovation plan that will expand its public space by 20%. The previous plan was halted when scholars lamented the loss of central stacks – “seven floors of shelving built with the library in 1911” – which are guaranteed to be preserved in this proposal.

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Golbarg Bashi says she came up with the idea for her children’s book P is for Palestine “after I couldn’t find a book about Palestine for children.’’ The title is making waves among Jewish parents in New York, however, the NY Post is reporting that in addition to teaching kids about the everyday joys of Palestinian life, the book also addresses the clash between these two cultures in entries such as “I is for Intifada.” It seems practically designed to inflame concerns stateside about whether it’s possible to be anti-Israel without being anti-Semitic, which is a conversation few people are prepared to have with their 6-year-old.

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Once upon a time, reading aloud was a popular pastime, and the way most literature was designed to be consumed and shared. It wasn’t until the late 19th century, as Quartz reports, that silent reading become de rigueur, carving out an interior life for Westerners in a way that was virtually unprecedented, allowing them to keep apace with the much wider variety of printed materials that were being circulated. Quoted at length is Space Between Words author Peter Saenger: “Psychologically, silent reading emboldened the reader because it placed the source of his curiosity completely under personal control.” The relationship you currently enjoy with your own mind (to the extent that you actually enjoy it) might not have been possible before then.

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As you go out shopping this holiday season, be sure to look out for price-tag placement on book covers. Whether deliberately or on purpose, store clerks can end up changing the entire meaning of a book’s title with just one sticker, with surprisingly profane results. Photos of these hilarious incidents end up being traded back and forth online like (dirty) literary baseball cards, and Book Riot wants you to send yours along as well. (You have to admit, the inadvertently redacted title of Class Clown will definitely get kids reading.)