Third grade boys enjoyed a June outing to the New York Public Library’s Schwarzman Building where they received a tour of this majestic Beaux-Arts building, explored the special exhibit, “The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter” and had the chance to check out books and DVDs at the Children’s Center. Head Librarian Sarah Murphy, who arranged for this fascinating field trip, was accompanied by third grade teachers Caitlin Coleman and Susan Kehoe. Ms. Murphy explained that the trip is an important one. “We are fortunate to live in a city with one of the biggest and best public library systems in the world, and it’s important that our students take advantage of the myriad resources NYPL offers for all residents. Many of the boys regularly visit their local branches, but a tour of the research facilities at the Schwarzman is awe inspiring and special.”
A highlight of the boys’ guided tour was viewing (and touching!) the remains of the original stones from the Old Croton Aqueduct Distributing Reservoir that form part of the foundation of the library built on the Reservoir’s former site. The boys also delighted in seeing the many artifacts that are part of the special exhibit curated by children’s book historian Leonard S. Marcus.
They stepped into the Great Green Room of Margaret Wise Brown’s “Goodnight Moon,” slipped through Alice in Wonderland’s Rabbit Hole and petted a fur wall devoted to Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are.” Mr. Marcus was given access to the library’s vast collection of artifacts, from which he gathered 250 items, including the copy of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” that belonged to Alice Liddell, the girl for whom Lewis Carroll wrote the book; the original parrot-head umbrella and doll owned by P.L. Travers, creator of “Mary Poppins,” and James Daugherty’s original art for “Andy and the Lion,” a story inspired by the statues of Patience and Fortitude, the marble lions that guard the library’s entrance; the Browning boys and their teachers posed for a photo with one before embarking on their library tour. Also included in the exhibit is an ivy-covered wall from “The Secret Garden” with a ledge carved out for sitting, as well as the original stuffed bear and other animals that inspired the characters in “Winnie-the-Pooh.”
Ms. Murphy is pleased to note that the boys also had plenty of time to browse the shelves, and most left with at least one item. “Many were using library cards for the first time,” she said, “but it certainly won’t be the last!”