Unsurprisingly, the SVA Library Pictures Collection contains a rather robust “Libraries” folder. The folder is packed with architectural delights of the book-housing variety, and offers glimpses of moments like impeccably-coiffed librarians from the 1960s and 70s helping guileless students do research, people of all ages perusing titles, and artist Cindy Sherman in the stacks. The folder also contains quite a few images of the iconic Stephen A. Schwarzman branch of the New York Public Library on 42nd street being used over the course of many decades. The folder provides a fascinating look into the history of how these spaces were designed, used, and have shifted in terms of both form and function over time. As any bibliophile will tell you, libraries are sacred spaces. Although many have been quick to herald their imminent death, libraries have generally been quick to adapt to new technologies and prove their unwavering value. A visit to any public library in New York will demonstrate that they are decidedly not the ghost towns the over-excited pallbearers of the book era claimed they would become in the age of the internet. While certainly their computers are often their most used resource, the fact that public libraries remain lively community centers and offer super-accessible reliable information means that they are still invaluable social institutions (especially in a United States where the public sphere is being systematically reduced).




Cindy Sherman, ArtNews cover Winter 2018
January 1948

La Salle Ovalle, Richelieu Library Paris
NYC Public Library main reading room, April 30th 1961






British Museum Reading Room, London
Vatican Library, April 1957
October 1956