April 20, 2016

Sit in a chair with your name on it in the NYPL’s esteemed Rose Reading Room



Don’t get any ideas.

The New York Public Library’s Rose Main Reading Room has had a rough couple of years.

In mid-2014, the Library announced the historic room’s closure after a piece of plaster fell from the ceiling during non-public hours. No one was hurt, but an investigation into the incident was duly launched and library officials anticipated closing the area for a few weeks.

The subsequent examination of the room’s infrastructure, however, revealed asbestos in the attic area directly above the Reading Room—and so it’s been closed to the public ever since.

Now, two years and plenty of delays and dozens of striking photos later, the room will reopen and once again serve as the stupendous intellectual center of the NYPL’s Schwartzman Building. And the news arrives with the chance to personalize “a seat at the table“:

The New York Public Library is offering the chance to dedicate—for the first time ever—a spot in the Library’s landmark Rose Main Reading Room, in celebration of its reopening this fall.

We’re offering this once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to honor family or friends in one of the city’s most iconic spaces. Supporters can add their name to a historic chair or table designed by Carrère and Hastings, the building’s original architects.

Each chair is available with a gift of $5,000, and each table with a gift of $50,000.

Each brass plaque is 5” long by 2” high with black engraved type. You have the choice of using one of 3 preset dedications, along with two lines of text with up to 24 characters per line (including spaces). Read the full terms and conditions here.

You have until June 30 to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and reserve your seat before the rededication of the Rose Main Reading Room this fall! Give today and secure a piece of history forever.

Call it a “chairitable” opportunity. No. Don’t do that—but do consider personalizing a chair or table, if only in order to demand loudly its timely evacuation each and every time you enter the room. Just imagine it.

Scene: Busy library, not a damn chair in sight.

You: “Excuse me, that is my chair.”
Patron: “Shh. This is a library, why are you being an insane person? I’ve been reading in this chair for 6 hours.”
You: “Get up from my chair, it is mine.”
Patron: “I don’t see your name on it.”
You: “It is right there.”
Patron: “Oh, so it is. That’s weird. Okay.” (gives you chair)

Pretty sweet, right? To be clear, this won’t work, this is not at all how the campaign works. Furthermore, even if this did work, your chair is free to move about the room, as the NYPL points out, so finding it at any given time could take many hours, a fact that greatly diminishes the desired effect.

In other small print, the NYPL prohibits dedicating a chair with “comments that are offensive or objectionable to others, that use inappropriate language, or that are off-topic,” which is less fun but makes total sense.



Chad Felix is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House, and a former bookseller.