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These photos of public library branches aren’t just for bookworms

Written by
Howard Halle

With stalwart lions flanking the front steps leading to its magnificent Fifth Avenue home, the main branch of the New York Public library gets all the attention while its many branches across the five boroughs are generally treated as after-thoughts. Indeed, given that entire books can be downloaded from the internet, you might wonder who needs the NYPL branches at all? But the truth is these neighborhood redoubts of literature are important centers in their respective communities, offering locals a nearby oasis for reading or research or just chilling out. Architecture plays a large part, and with that in mind, the AIA New York’s center at 536 LaGuardia Place just opened an exhibition about these under-appreciated places. On view are photographs by Elizabeth Felicella, whose series “Reading Room” documents all 210 branches. They show a wide variety of architectural styles—from contemporary to modern to beaux-arts—reflecting the era in which the buildings went up. Some examples are presented here, and if you’re interested in seeing the whole show, it’s up until January 7.

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