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Ronald Clark Shares Stories and Photos of Living Inside a Branch of The New York Public Library

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


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 over 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.

Storycorps produced an interview Ronald and Jamilah, which aired on NPR's Morning Edition  today. Listen now.

In 2016, the Library 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. Watch now

Ronald Clark also shared the story of being inspired to build a boat by hand. He found everything he needed to complete his dream in the Library he called home. Watch now:

View a slideshow of the Clark family's photos of life inside the Library.

Finally, view an animated short from StoryCorps that shares Ronald's story.

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This is the most wonderful

This is the most wonderful story ever! Thank you Ronald Clark for sharing your most treasured stories and memories.

Clark Family Photos

What a beautiful story of a family with the greatest riches of all: love .

Clark Family

What a beautiful story, what a beautiful family! I wish I grew up in a library!

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