If the New York Public Library branches were colleges, the Schwarzman Building would be Harvard or Yale.
If the New York Public Library is a tree, then the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 41st Street and Fifth Avenue is its trunk.
One of New York City’s most iconic locations, the majestic Rose Main Reading Room in Stephen A. Schwarzman Building was contemporaneously the largest of its kind in the world - it measures 78 feet by 297 feet—roughly the length of two city blocks—with 52-foot-tall ceilings displaying murals of vibrant skies and billowing clouds. There were 42 oak tables for 636 readers and 40,000 reference books lining its walls.
Since its opening in 1911, the Reading Room has served as a valuable resource for researchers, scholars, and writers.
The emblematic New York novelist E.L. Doctorow conducted research at the Library for his best-known work, Ragtime, the story of three New York families from the turn of the 20th century to World War I. A far-reaching work of historical fiction, the novel interweaves the stories of actual figures of the 1900s, including Evelyn Nesbit, J.P. Morgan, and Harry Houdini.
The Library has also been cited as a resource by many other writers: Tom Wolfe, Nora Ephron, Isaac Singer, Elizabeth Bishop, E.B. White, and Jerzy Kosiński among them. Norman Mailer and John Updike have been spotted using the collections in the Rose Main Reading Room. Leon Trotskiy worked in the Library Reading Room. He wrote in the book "My Life": " Bukharin was one of the first people I met in New York (..) . Although it was late, and we were very tired, Bukharin insisted on dragging us off to the Public Library the very first day".
The Room is named for Deborah, Jonathan F. P., Samuel Priest, and Adam R. Rose, children of the family that donated money to restore the room in the 1990s.
"The Roses are one of the oldest and most successful real-estate families in New York. Founded in the Bronx in the 1920’s by brothers Samuel B. and David Rose, their flagship developing company, Rose Associates, manages more than 31,000 apartments in New York, including Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, and owns some of the city’s most sought-after real estate, such as the Madison Belvedere. The Roses have made a lot of money and given a lot away: quietly, but not entirely anonymously. These are the Roses of the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the Natural History Museum, of Rose Hall and the Rose Building and Rose Rehearsal Studio at Lincoln Center (...)
The room has been featured in several feature films, including 1984's "Ghostbusters" and "The Day After Tomorrow" (2004). The New York Public Library featured in "The Day After Tomorrow" is entirely the product of Hollywood technical wizardly. Books have never been burned in the Rose Main Reading Room!
At two in the morning on May 28, 2014, one of the ceiling’s gilded-plaster rosettes of the Rose Room suddenly fell to the floor, 50 feet below, shattering to pieces. No one was hurt, but it was a sign that the ceiling needed a close look. The space was immediately closed off for repairs.
All 102 ceiling rosettes have been carefully tested, first with a gentle tap, then a firmer tug, and eventually a 300-plus–pound weight. Every surface has been inspected and refreshed. The $12 million restoration included securing 900 plaster elements on the ceiling with steel cables. Over the course of more than two years, an army of architects, structural engineers, antique restorers, mural painters, and craftsmen carefully worked on the vast space, about the size of two city blocks.
Library officials created an innovative approach for storing material in a new stack. Dewey order was scrapped in favor of storing books by size, a system that will increase the repository’s capacity by 40 percent.
Dewey order (Dewey Decimal Classification System) is named after Melvil Dewey, an American Librarian who developed it in 1876. This system is a numerical scheme for the arrangement of subjects of nonfiction books, and it classifies books by dividing them into 10 main subject groups that are called categories. Each category is represented by figures beginning with 000 and going on to 999.
Now books are organized into nine size categories, and staff members use book-sizing templates to determine where they will reside. Staff members pull and place the requested material in one of the electric railroad’s twenty-four red cars that then make the five-minute trip to the circulation desks on the first and third floors of the main building.