Rose Main Reading Room

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The Rose Main Reading Room South Hall in the New York Public Library Main Branch in all of its resplendent glory, attractive and impressive through being richly colourful or sumptuous.

The Rose Main Reading Room South Hall in the New York Public Library Main Branch in all of its resplendent glory — attractive and impressive through being richly colourful or sumptuous.

The Deborah, Jonathan F. P., Samuel Priest, and Adam R. Rose Main Reading Room, officially Room 315 and commonly known as the Rose Main Reading Room.

Credit to Vincent Desjardins the photographer.

Rose Main Reading Room

The Main Branch's Deborah, Jonathan F. P., Samuel Priest, and Adam R. Rose Main Reading Room, officially Room 315 and commonly known as the Rose Main Reading Room, is located on the third floor of the Main Branch. The room is 78 by 297 feet (24 by 91 m) with a 52-foot-high ceiling. Characterized by Robert A. M. Stern as one of the United States' largest column-free rooms, it is nearly as large as the Main Concourse at Grand Central Terminal. It was originally described as being in the Renaissance architectural style, but Matthew Postal described the room as having a Beaux-Arts design. Half of the space was used as an office and service center prior to the late 1990s. The Main Reading Room was renovated and renamed for the Rose family in 1998–1999; and further renovations to its ceiling were completed in 2016. The room became a New York City designated landmark in 2017.

The room is separated into two sections of equal size by a book-delivery desk. The desk is made of oak and is covered by a canopy, with arches held up by Tuscan columns. The north hall leads to the Manuscripts and Archives Reading Room, while the south hall leads to the Art and Architecture Reading Room; picture taking is only allowed in a small section of the south hall. The doorways into the Main Reading Room contain large round pediments, which contrast with the smaller triangular pediments in the branch's other reading rooms. There is intricate detail on the room's smaller metalwork, such as doorknobs and hinges. The floors of the Main Reading Room and the connected Catalog Room are composed of red tiles, with marble pavers set in between the tiles, which indicate how the furniture should be arranged. The marble pavers demarcate the boundaries of the aisles.

The Main Reading Room is furnished with low wooden tables and chairs, with four evenly-spaced brass lamps on each table. There are two arrays of tables in each hall, separated by a wide aisle. The tables each measure 23 by 4 feet (7.0 by 1.2 m). Originally, there were 768 seats, but this was reduced to 490 in the late 20th century. The seating capacity has since been increased to 624 or 636. Each spot at each table is assigned a number. The room is also equipped with desktop computers providing access to library collections and the Internet, as well as docking facilities for laptops. The NYPL installed 48 desktop computers near the central book-delivery desk. Thirty of the room's forty-two wooden tables have power outlets, while twelve of the tables have no outlets and are intended only for reading. Readers may fill out forms requesting books brought to them from the library's closed stacks, which are delivered to the indicated seat numbers.

Surrounding the room are thousands of reference works on open shelves along the room's main and balcony levels, which may be read openly. At the time of the library's opening, there were about 25,000 freely accessible reference works on the shelves. There are three levels of bookshelves: two on the main floor beneath the balcony, and one on the balcony. Above the top level of shelves is a duct carrying wiring and cables for the room.

The walls are made of Caen stone and are designed to resemble limestone. Massive windows and grand chandeliers illuminate the space. There are eighteen grand archways, of which fifteen contain windows: nine face Bryant Park to the west, and six face east. The other three archways form a wall with the Public Catalog Room to its east, and the middle archway contains windows that face into the Catalog Room. Each window contains low emissivity glass. There are two rows of nine chandeliers in the Main Reading Room. These were originally fitted with incandescent light bulbs, an innovation at the time of the library's opening, and were powered by the library's own power plant. The lights on the chandeliers are arranged like an inverted cone, with four tiers of light bulbs.

The plaster ceiling is painted to emulate gilded wood, with moldings of classical and figurative details. The Klee-Thomson Company plastered the ceiling. According to Matthew Postal, the moldings include "scroll cartouches bordered by cherubs, nude female figures with wings, cherub heads, satyr masks, vases of fruit, foliate moldings, and disguised ventilation grilles." The moldings frame a three-part mural, created by James Wall Finn and completed in 1911. Though no clear photographs exist of the mural's original appearance, the mural in its present incarnation depicts clouds and sky. When the ceiling was restored in 1998, the original mural was deemed to be unsalvageable, and Yohannes Aynalem instead painted a reproduction. The ceiling was restored again from 2014 to 2016.

New York Public Library Main Branch

The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, commonly known as the Main Branch, 42nd Street Library or the New York Public Library, is the flagship building in the New York Public Library system in the Midtown Manhattan neighborhood of New York City. The branch, one of four research libraries in the library system, contains nine separate divisions. The structure contains four stories open to the public. The main entrance steps are at Fifth Avenue at its intersection with East 41st Street. As of 2015, the branch contains an estimated 2.5 million volumes in its stacks. The building was declared a National Historic Landmark, a National Register of Historic Places site, and a New York City designated landmark in the 1960s.

The Main Branch was built after the New York Public Library was formed as a combination of two libraries in the late 1890s. The site, along Fifth Avenue between 40th and 42nd Streets, is located directly east of Bryant Park, on the site of the Croton Reservoir. The architectural firm Carrère and Hastings constructed the structure in the Beaux-Arts style, and the structure opened on May 23, 1911. The marble facade of the building contains ornate detailing, and the Fifth Avenue entrance is flanked by a pair of stone lions that serve as the library's icon. The interior of the building contains the Main Reading Room, a space measuring 78 by 297 feet (24 by 91 m) with a 52-foot-high (16 m) ceiling; a Public Catalog Room; and various reading rooms, offices, and art exhibitions.

The Main Branch became popular after its opening and saw 4 million annual visitors by the 1920s. It formerly contained a circulating library, though the circulating division of the Main Branch moved to the nearby Mid-Manhattan Library in 1970. Additional space for the library's stacks was constructed under adjacent Bryant Park in 1991, and the branch's Main Reading Room was restored in 1998. A major restoration from 2007 to 2011 was underwritten by a $100 million gift from philanthropist Stephen A. Schwarzman, for whom the branch was subsequently renamed. The branch underwent another expansion starting in 2018. The Main Branch has been featured in many television shows and films.

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