The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
When was the last time you read a love letter to the library?
When was the last time you stood in awe of the majesty of a curated space dedicated to the art of literature?
When was the last time you engaged in this space that is free and accessible to everyone with a card?
In the middle of the pandemic, when browsing through the aisles of the library was just beginning to be possible again, this beautiful offering came forth in June 2021 and invited us to remember what we love about this people's space.
If it has been a while, I invite you to go back and consider the gift of the public library and then I invite you to learn about the quest of one woman to preserve, protect, and promote the space of public knowledge.
The Personal Librarian is an historical fiction account of Belle deCosta Greene , the woman who nearly singlehandedly negotiated the collection that eventually became what is now the New York Public Library.
J.P. Morgan was a force to be reckoned with, that comes across clearly in this book that is partly about his quest to be remembered, his insatiable desire for beautiful things, and his whimsy, his delight in this brilliant woman who was his intellectual equal.
She was clearly a photo-feminist, a woman of independent means, who made personal sacrifices to hold onto the ability to make her own desires the principle choice. That she gave up so much to make such an impact is the underlying sorrow of her story, of this life.
What would you do if you knew you were in the middle of making history but had to keep parts of yourself in a closely held secret all the way to your death, that if it were discovered your true identity, everything you worked so hard for may crumble under the weight of bias, prejudice, and injustice?
If you watched The Gilded Age, you would enjoy this book set in New York City with glimpses into the tiny window of the elite elite of this country. What was it like back then when the Industrial Age was making instant millionaires brush up against the long money traditions of New Amsterdam.