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New Exhibition, Free and Open to the Public: Extraordinary Gifts: Rare Books Presented to The New York Society Library 1754-2012

A panorama of New Yorkers’ reading habits over almost 260 years

WHAT: An all-new exhibition, Extraordinary Gifts: Rare Books Presented to The New York Society Library 1754-2012
WHEN: January 24-December 31, 2013 The New York Society Library is open seven days a week September-May: M/W/F/S 9-5, T/Th 9-7, Su 1-5. June-August, open weekdays only: M/W/F 9-5, T/Th 9-7.
WHERE: The New York Society Library, The Peluso Family Exhibition Gallery 53 East 79th Street (just east of Madison Avenue; 6 train to 77th Street)

This original exhibition honors a legacy of inspired giving that has shaped the Library from its founding in 1754 down to the present day. The exhibition affords a glimpse into the intellectual and cultural lives of early New Yorkers and sheds light on the Library’s past as it relates to the political growth of the young American nation. The New York Society Library was built up, in part, by donations from its readers. Extraordinary Gifts traces the history of giving at the Society Library through archival records and the books themselves. Items on display reflect not only the historic engagement of Library members with the institution, but also trends in reading and book collecting over more than two centuries. Books donated to the Library during the 258 years of its existence are living traces of the history of its members, New Yorkers, and the times in which they lived.

Extraordinary Gifts showcases a wide range of donations from the earliest to the most recent. Highlights include a full set of Charles Dickens’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood in parts as originally issued, a letter written by Thomas Jefferson in 1791, a signed copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, and items from the Library’s Archives. This exhibition is free of charge and open to the public during any of the Library’s open hours, through the end of the year.

The New York Society Library was founded in 1754 and is the city’s oldest library. The Library today is open to all for reading, reference, and selected events, with circulation and other services by subscription. The beautiful landmarked building dates from 1917 and includes reading rooms, spaces for study, stacks, and the Assunta, Ignazio, Ada and Romano Peluso Exhibition Gallery. The Library has approximately 300,000 volumes and hosts a variety of special events, reading groups, and workshops, as well as the New York City Book Awards. Information on the Library, its history, collections, and activites can be found at www.nysoclib.org.