December 15, 2016
The New York Public Library and Macmillan team up to publish books inspired the library’s collections
by Chad Felix
The New York Public Library, however troubling from time to time, is undoubtedly one of the world’s great library systems. Between its four research libraries—the Stephen A. Schwartzman Building, the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for the Performing Arts, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Science, Industry, and Business Library (SIBL)—and nearly 100 neighborhood branches across Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island, the New York institution provides an incalculable service to its city and the cultural and intellectual world all around it.
This is simply to say that the New York Public Library has got a lot on its plate. Pretty much all of the time. And also that I like it and think it’s important. (Hello there, choir.)
But this first fact hasn’t stopped it, just before the year’s close, from announcing a new publishing partnership with the publishing giant Macmillan. According to Andrew Albanese of Publishers Weekly, the two entities plan to work together, moving forward, to publish five to eight books per year that celebrate libraries, taking inspiration from the NYPL’s history and collections.
Predictably enough, the first book from this as-of-yet untitled publishing venture will be an adult coloring book that invites patrons to scribble all over some of the more famous images from the library’s collection. Other children’s titles to come include, according to an NYPL press release, “a yet-to-be-titled picture book starring the stoic lions who stand in front of the Library’s main building, Patience and Fortitude; and a middle grade novel based on a real family who once lived in the library. Publisher Jean Feiwel and Henry Holt Books for Young Readers Editorial Director Christian Trimmer are overseeing the children’s book program.”
The adult books program, which is to be overseen by Michael Flamini, Executive Editor at St. Martin’s Press, will see the publication of:
a book by acclaimed and beloved author and illustrator Maira Kalman celebrating libraries; a book on New York restaurant life, featuring menus from the library’s extensive collection of 45,000 eatery menus; and Book Face, a book bringing together the best posts from the #bookface Instagram sensation.
I mean, Book Face is fine, but having worked at the New York Public Library for some (very little) time, that’s only (just barely) scratching the surface. [Sidenote: Hey, wasn’t that whole thing invented by booksellers at Skylight Books and WORD Brooklyn anyway? They call it #corpuslibris!]
I mean, all those different styles of library card over the years? All those strange and wonderful inquiries from patrons? All those delightful typewritten and handwritten reader reports of children’s books from branch librarians. All those empty reading rooms (all proceeds from book sales go toward opening closed rooms up to the public again?). All those former apartments inside of the branches. The imagination reels.
Chad Felix is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House, and a former bookseller.