www.baltimoresun.com/features/books/read-street/bal-new-york-public-library-gets-it-right-20120716,0,7114070.story

baltimoresun.com

New York gets it right

By Dave Rosenthal

10:43 AM EDT, July 17, 2012

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While on vacation last week, I stumbled on one of the most pleasant library settings imaginable: Bryant Park, swath of green behind the main branch of the New York Public Library.

Among the trees on the northern end of the park are book carts and tables, creating the perfect setting for a day of reading -- even when temperatures were in the mid-90s. If I hadn't been on a tight sight-seeing schedule, I would have loved to sit down with a book or magazine for an hour in the Bryant Park Reading Room. According to the park's website, the area re-creates the Depression-era “Open Air Library,” which offered "out-of-work businessmen and intellectuals a place to go where they did not need money, a valid address, a library card, or any identification to enjoy the reading materials."

Unfortunately, the Enoch Pratt Free Library doesn't have a conveniently located park next door. But I could see a small selection of materials being offered outside the Towson branch of the Baltimore County Public Library -- it sure would soften the look of all that concrete.

For a great idea from New Yorkers, it rivals the High Line, the elevated park created from an old railroad line on the west side.

(A spokesman for Bryant Park noted in response to the post's original headline -- which implied some involvement by the library -- that the outdoor reading room is operated by Bryant Park Corp. The non-profit was responsible for rehabilitating the once-dilapidated park 20 years ago.)