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Library Stories

Ep. 56 "The King of the Library" | Library Stories

In the early 20th century, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated $5.2 million to build more than 60 libraries throughout New York City. For many years, the Carnegie libraries were heated by coal, and each had a custodian who lived inside the branch, often with family, to keep the building warm. Raymond Clark, custodian for three decades, lived at NYPL's Washington Heights Library with his son Ronald and granddaughter Jamilah. Now, their former apartment has been renovated and will serve as a teen center. We invited Ronald and Jamilah back to Washington Heights to see the renovation and reflect on what it was like to grow up in a library.

Library Stories is a video series from The New York Public Library that shows what the Library means to our users, staff, donors, and communities through moving personal interviews.

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Ronald Clark, Jamilah Clark, who grew up in Washington Hts. Library apartment

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Una historia entrañable

Me parece increíble haber vivido toda la vida en la Biblioteca, con tu familia, rodeados de miles de libros, durante tantos años que has visto crecer a tu hijo que ahora ya tiene una niña como Jamila. Yo viví hasta los 25 años en un cine que era propiedad de mis padres y pasaba allí muchas horas, viendo películas y ayudando en el el trabajo. El negocio fue mal y tuvimos que cerrar el cine. Esta historia me ha recordado una parte de mi vida que se fue con el cine, aunque aquí ha sido un bonito final, ver su querida biblioteca reconvertida. Un saludo desde Madrid

Great Story!

Thank you so much for sharing this story. I had no idea that families lived in and took care of libraries years ago. Are there any pictures of what the apartment looked like before it was renovated? Was the apartment one floor of the building or just a part of it?

So interesting! This branch

So interesting! This branch should be named after this family.

Es la biblioteca a 1000 St.

Es la biblioteca a 1000 St. Nicholas? Es renovada hace unos anos... que historia preciosa!

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