Today marks the centenary of the official dedication of the New York Public Library. The ceremony was presided over by President William Howard Taft and was attended by Governor John Alden Dix and Mayor William J. Gaynor. The following morning, New York’s very public Public Library officially opened its doors. The response was overwhelming. Between 30,000 and 50,000 visitors streamed through the building the first day it was open. One of the very first items called for was N. I. Grot’s Nravstvennye idealy nashego vremeni (Ethical Ideas of Our Time), a study of Friedrich Nietzsche and Leo Tolstoi. The reader filed his slip at 9:08 a.m. and received his book six minutes later.
Today the Library’s 89 locations include four research centers – focusing on the humanities and social sciences; the performing arts; black history and culture; and business and industry – and a network of neighborhood libraries throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Research and circulating collections combined total more than 50 million items, among them materials for the visually impaired. The Library serves some 16 million patrons who come through its doors annually; in addition, the Library’s website, www.nypl.org, receives 28 million visits annually from more than 200 countries.