Library tourism – New York Public Library

Library Way

Our recent trip to New York was part of a band trip to play in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York so we travelled  as part of a large group. When I asked on the first morning if anyone would like to join us for a tour of New York’s public library I was met with confused looks and polite ‘no thank yous’.

But I didn’t care. I was excited. The tour took just over an hour, which isn’t a surprise when you consider the sheer size of the library. The library came into being when the Tilden Trust and the Astor and Lenox libraries were consolidated on May 23, 1895. The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building was built in 1911 and is a simply stunning piece of architecture.

NYC 2014 029Fun facts that I learned on the tour include that there are 88 miles of shelf space in the library itself and a further 40 miles under Bryant Park to the back of the building. They also use their own classification system for shelving the books,  designed by the first Director, Dr. John Shaw Billings.

We found out about the main collections held by the library as well as the building itself and even R, who is not a librarian, found it really interesting. One thing that struck me during the tour was that the library only receives a small amount of their budget from the government and relies on donations to provide the rest. This is in sharp contrast to public libraries here. Does this say something about the importance of libraries in US culture?

One of the historic benefactors mentioned on the tour was steel baron Andrew Carnegie, who is probably more famous for building Carnegie Hall. Andrew Carnegie also donated a lot of money for the construction of public libraries in Ireland, which is something not many people may be aware of so I plan on exploring his influence on the Irish public library system in a future post.

NYC2014 007I also got waaaay too excited when I realised librarians get a discount in the gift shop. It was one of the highlights of the trip to be able to say out loud “I’m a librarian”.

I would definitely recommend a trip to the library if you’re visiting New York and I also plan on making library tourism a feature of our holidays in future. Do you have any recommendations to start me off?

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St. Patrick’s Day in New York

Before I begin this post, you may (or may not have) noticed my blog looks a little different. I spent the weekend playing around with different WordPress themes and getting to grips with some (very basic) CSS coding.I love coding when it works – when it works. Let me know if you have any feedback on the new design. I’m going to keep tinkering so it may change again, you never know.

NYC2014 244Our recent trip to New York wasn’t just about yarn shopping. The main reason for the trip with the Finglas Concert and Marching Band was to play in the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

NYC2014 019Naturally I brought my camera with me and had a blast shooting away on the parade route. I borrowed an 18-200mm lens from my Dad and it didn’t disappoint. It allowed me to get up close and personal with my subjects while marching along behind the band.

NYC2014 217Despite the fact that I was moving, and the camera was moving, and the crowd and musicians were moving a nice quick 1/200 second shutter speed allowed me to freeze the action.

NYC2014 048I took so many photos I’m really happy with but here is a very small selection to give you a flavour of the parade.

NYC2014 239I can’t even begin to describe how cold it was on the parade. It was a much dryer cold then we get in Ireland. The instruments froze, something none of the musicians had experienced before, and fingers went numb and refused to do what was asked of them.

NYC2014 255There weren’t as many spectators as I was expecting, but then it was between -2° and -4° on a Monday morning so hardly surprising. But those that did come out to watch the parade did so in style.

NYC2014 230But despite the cold it was a really great experience and one I will always remember. Thank you Finglas Concert and Marching Band for allowing me to be a part of it.NYC2014 291

Yarn shopping in New York

As I mentioned in a previous post I’m just back from a trip to New York. We had a fantastic holiday and I think I’m still recovering. No holiday would be complete without a visit to a local yarn shop or two. And I was particularly excited about visiting New York’s legendary yarn shops.

Purl SohoThe first we visited (and when I say ‘we’ I mean myself and my husband who sat in the corner and patiently waited for me as I squished and ooh’d and aah’d to my heart’s content) was Purl Soho in lower Manhatten. I hadn’t heard the best things about the customer service at this shop so I was pleasantly surprised to find that the staff were very friendly and helpful. I had a great time there. Sorry for the not so great photo but I was using my phone.

NYC2014 005I picked up some yarns that you can’t get at home. Clockwise from the top left I got some Habu silk and stainless steel, Cascade 220 in Coral and Anis, Madelinetosh tosh merino light in Paper and Night Bloom and finally Purl Soho Line Weight in Timeless Navy and Super Pink. Oh, and a tote bag to make other knitters mad jealous 😉

20140316_163350We also visited Lion Brand Yarn Studio. I loved the display in the window – a knitted Taj Mahal. It really is a work of art. I didn’t buy any yarn though. As a self-confessed yarn snob (and having parted with a fair chunk of cash at Purl Soho) I didn’t really find anything that inspired me enough. But it was definitely worth a visit.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with my purchases but while I’m deciding I’ll just sit here petting them.

Where in the world is your favourite yarn shop?

Following my own arrow

I’m just back from an exciting trip to New York where I got to walk in the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade with Finglas Concert and Marching Band. As well as the parade we visited the New York Public Library and two gorgeous yarn shops. But more on those in a later blog post.

Before we headed away I finished my Follow your arrow mystery kal by Ysolda Teague.

NYC2014 028The experience of a ‘mystery’ knit along was new to me and I learned a lot in the process. First of all the mystery part of it was more difficult than I expected. I found myself peeking at the pictures in the spoilers threads on Ravelry before deciding which clue to choose. And in the case of Clue 4 I didn’t cheat, but ended up ripping back the clue and starting it again as I wasn’t happy with the result.

I did enjoy the knit along aspect of the project, watching all the photos of the different option – how the different clues interacted and the colour and clue choices that other knitters where opting for. I don’t know if I’ll do a mystery knit along again but I did like having options in the pattern.

NYC2014 041I ended up with an AABBA shawl and I really love it. It blocked huge but with some wear the Coolree has unblocked somewhat and it’s very wearable. It’s also big enough to throw over my shoulders if I need a bit more warmth. Despite my inability to stick to the mystery part of the pattern, I’m really happy with the final shawl.

The Fairy Tree in Marley Park

Fairy Tree in Marley ParkThere is a fairy tree in Marley Park, my local park in Rathfarnham. I don’t really remember when the fairies moved in but I love visiting it when I go for a walk. I did a bit of digging around online (I’m a librarian dontcha know, I’m trained to find stuff) and found a little bit of information about how the fairy tree came to be.

It was part of a special care for birds  project (pages 11 and 12) organised by St. Michael’s House, one of Ireland’s largest providers of community-based services for people with an intellectual disability and their families, in 2010.

Fairy Tree in Marley ParkAccording to the newsletter the “fairy tree is designed to keep the imagination of young children alive, as they wander through the forest and then are surprised to find the small fairy door at the base of the 300-year-old beech tree. As they look up and see the fairy castle, they remain enraptured by the magic and as we wait in excitement to see if the birds in the forest will react as positively and take up residence in their new home.”

Fairy Tree in Marley ParkChildren are indeed inspired by the fairy tree. They use it as a wishing tree and you’ll find little notes pinned to it. It’s really a very special place, I really do believe the fairies live there. I mean someone has to be adding the extra doors, windows and even a washing line to the tree. Fairies are as good an explanation as any.

This Google Map might help you find the Fairy Tree if you’re not familiar with it.