The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Field Report: Donnell Library Sale

Last Friday I attended a sad FOL sale at the Donnell Branch of the NYPL. Sad not because the books were of low quality but because it marked the move into limbo of New York's best circulating collection of children's literature.

The NYPL recently sold the real estate occupied by the Donnell Branch to the Orient-Express Hotels for 59 mil. Apparently the library was in need of more renovation than the system could afford and this was the only way to raise the $$.

The hotel will still devote two floors to the library but there won't be room for children's reading room so--while the collection will remain intact (the sale was mostly to liquidate duplicates)--it's currently homeless.

I attended the sale with a born-and-bred Manhattanite who's used the Donnell for years and she said we were pillaging her childhood.

If you're a library-loving New Yorker write the administration and tell them how much you want the Donnell children's collection to get a good home...and soon. I understand that the main branch (the famous one with the lions) is going to go partial circulating soon, maybe the Donnell collection would fit there?

What happens to city librarians when their branch closes? Are they laid-off? Relocated? If so, how much say do they have in their new assignments?

Depressing. Anyway here's what I pillaged.

A nice stack of NYC ephemera and tour books from the Woolworth building, at one point the tallest building in the world (and still one of the top 50). I think I can see this building from out of our kitchen window, but neither my eyesight nor my city geography is good enough to say for sure.

A booklet called Villages and Hamlets within New York City yielded this great description of the founding of Luna Park in Coney Island.

I picked up a number of beautifully bound and illustrated classics including Down-Adown-Derry a Walter De La Mare verse collection with plates by Dorothy P. Lathrop.

And this charming lift-a-flap / pop-up book by Italian designer Bruno Munari, The Elephant's Wish.

I love the text in this book.

The ox is bored with being
a fat, lazy ox with flies
buzzing all around him,
and he is wishing...
The find of the sale though was this first edition of The Day the Cow Sneezed by hep-cat record jacket designer, commercial illustrator, and children's book writer Jim Flora.

Very hard to part with this one.

See the rest of my new acquisitions in my Children's catalog new arrivals.


Anonymous said...

A homeless collection essentially does not exist as long as it is unavailable to its patrons.
Have been this route before...children's collections go first, then the rest..twisted rationale being that this kind of cut is "fair" because it affects potentially everybody. Democracy in action...not.
Will send a rude rhubarb to NY Pub Lib

Nathan - Bat Country Books said...

I love Jim Flora. I don't know if you ever scout LPs as well.. but make sure you look for "Mambo For Cats"

I sold a copy with a record that was unplayable for $228.. It's almost solely collected for the cover artwork.

Irene Gallo said...

Great finds, Will. I love Jim Flora.

I keep meaning to go to the Donnell Library to visit the Wyeth paintings they have. I hope i haven't missed my chance.