March 14, 2014
Book-loving lady leaves $6 million to the NYPL
by Kirsten Reach
Lotte Fields, an avid reader and library patron, passed away at 89 and left a little money to her local library. That is, she left six million dollars to the New York Public Library. Six million!
The story brings to mind Carol Sue Snowden, the librarian in Columbus, Ohio who saved a million dollars over her lifetime to give back to the library. Secret millionaires, man. Secret, bookish millionaires who are really good to their libraries.
Fields didn’t work at the NYPL, though. Her executor said she just loved to read with her husband, and that the donation “shows just how much Lotte loved books and how important she felt it was to support her fellow book lovers.”
Fields had donated regularly to the library during her lifetime, but always contributed a modest amount. The library was surprised by the donation, “but we are deeply honored to pick up her mantle and promote the joy of reading,” Tony Marx, library president, told the New York Times.
The money was inherited from her late husband’s family, who were wool merchants. Secret millionaire wool merchants! Fields requested that the sum would be divided evenly between the branch library system and the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.
The library announced the donation on Wednesday, the same day as a scheduled protest against the Central Library Plan. The Library Lovers League and the Citizens Defending Libraries braved the rain on Wednesday evening in front of the library on 42nd Street.
Protesters brought signs, songs, slogans, and a petition to call attention to the planned renovations. Mayor Bill De Blasio has not connected with these groups since he took office, but Humans of New York star Matthew Zadrozny was in attendance. (No one has confirmed whether Zadrozny was eating chicken.)
Kirsten Reach is an editor at Melville House.