My Library: Sam
What’s your name and how old are you?
Sam. I’m 26.
So when did you get your New York Public Library card?
I got my library card about seven years ago when I came to New York from the Chicago area to study architecture at Cooper Union.
What was your motivation to get a library card?
The research collections in midtown are superior to anything else in the city—in architecture that’s saying a lot because Avery Library at Columbia is also excellent but the New York Public Library holdings are actually quite different, special—
Wow—do you still practice or study architecture?
Never practiced for a single day.
And you graduated?
Yes, I graduated! But do I still study it? Yes. I just returned from a Fulbright grant where I was studying the architecture of the former Soviet Union. I was in Kazakhstan where the people have a long nomadic history. In the 1930s when the Soviets came down they looked at the tent architecture and declared it backwards, a way of living backwards. Of course, since 1992 and the breakup of the Soviet Union these things have been reclaimed as part of the national heritage and history.
So you just got back from there? What are you up to now?
I write now for magazines and different journals as well. And I’m going back to school in September to study Anthropology.
Do you see the library as helping you when you go back to school?
The library is a stalwart institution and has always been there for me—a home away from home: The library gives me a place to work—in sort of a public living room!
The library as public living room—I like that! Switching tracks: you have obviously grown up with digital and online... where do you see the library fitting into your life, or are you not a digital person?
I like the physical space and the research collections but also the media holdings which I can put on hold and pick up at any branch library. I live on the east side so I probably go to Tompkins Square three days week. I put the request online and get an email and go and pick them up—I’m really happy to access the catalog from home.
What’s the last thing you checked out?
I have pretty eccentric tastes, I think! A lot of the material I use is not checkoutable—the research collections. But I just checked out a film I never thought I would find in the library. I had seen it when I was in Kazakhstan. It’s called Tulpan.
What are you currently reading?
I’d like to learn Russian—so I have this Russian dictionary—
Yeah, you log in with your library card barcode and PIN if you access the database from home. So, Sam, any criticism for the library?
No—Well, I must say I hate the new logo, it's like the Lion King!—but to me the library is one of the great shepherds of New York public information access.
There’s our pull quote!
Also, there are times when I wish I could take some things out of the research collections. On the other hand I’m glad you can’t take those things out because then it’s always there for you!