sniff…sniff…a final goodbye to the Donnell


Above: Photo by Kelly Shimoda for the New York Times for this column.

So yes, you are probably thinking: “Enough already! That library closed in 2008!”

But until a few weeks ago, the platform at the 5th Ave E train stop still had the poster for the Donnell library along its wall of cultural institutions as is conveniently still explained here.

So although the Donnell was closed, I still had the poster to remind me. I would stand in front of it on the platform, that was my spot.

Why was the Donnell so special to me? Maybe because it was so unassuming but had every single book I could ever think of or hope for and was the home of Christopher Robin’s original toys. These toys both terrify and amaze me and fortunately have found a great home.

The Donnell Library was a sanctuary in midtown, a place I had to be for too many hours of my life. I used to go to that library almost everyday on my break when I worked around the corner. I would go up to the children’s books floor, pick a random area of the alphabet. Grab a huge stack of picture books, pick a carrell and read them all.  And thanks to the forever night owl in me fighting with the hours of an office world, I would often fall asleep.* Until one day when a security card, keys jangling sternly said behind me: “Ma’am, ma’am. Are you ok? Are YOU OK MA’AM?”. I thought to dreamily to myself, I’m more than OK; I’m napping and reading my favorite things at the BEST Library on Earth. (I’ve been told I tend to exaggerate). That’s when I learned it was against the rules to openly sleep at the library.

It was also the place Liz, Robin and I and a few other classmates first started meeting after our Sergio class was finished. It was the beginning of something.

The Donnell was a great escape for me, it gave me hope each day that maybe I would end up in a place where I belonged.

Now, even the E train platform poster is gone. And I’m finally going to have to accept that my beloved Donnell is no more.

Tell me about your favorite library — open or closed.

*Woops! I have an issue with falling asleep in NYC public spaces, to be discussed at length in a different venue someday!

The Author