Best Of

Best Public Library

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When you consider that we live in one of the world’s greatest cities, it’s troubling that New York’s libraries can be so strikingly inconsistent. Sure, the famed Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street is a lovely place to visit, but the reading rooms double as a tourist attraction. Other branches are hit-or-miss when it comes to book selection. But the Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Library branch in Grand Army Plaza combines the best of all worlds: Designed by Alfred Morton Githens and Francis Keally and opened in 1941 after a legendarily difficult birthing process, it’s a gorgeous, stately edifice with a 50-foot-high entryway and enormous bronze doors inlaid with little figurines representing great literary figures. It’s also a completely functional space, with plenty of long tables and nooklike desk spaces to get work done. Best of all, it houses a reliably great selection of books old and new, with particularly wonderful sections for art and music. Knock out a couple hours of hard labor and then decamp to Prospect Park next door for some much-deserved time in the grass with a novel.

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