From April 16, 1911
MOVING A MILLION BOOKS INTO THE NEW LIBRARY: Transfer of the Lenox and Astor Library Contents to the Beautiful New Building at Forty-second Street and Fifth Avenue a Big Undertaking. (PDF)
The worst thing about moving is all the books. They take much longer to pack than you think they will, they fill more boxes than you guess they will, and they’re a lot heavier than you remember them being. The last time I moved, I probably had a few hundred books that came with me. That’s about 0.02% of what had to be moved into the new library.
At the Forty-second Street entrance to the new building there is always a long line of moving vans, and sixty men from the establishment which is handling the job go in and out, bent under the weight of learning, like frugal ants stocking their hill for the Winter. At the entrance a lady in a sheath skirt, with her hair done in the style of 1860 and her finger poised under her chin, watches the laborers. Even though she is marble, she seems to grow daily more bewildered at the endless procession.
To any oen who has ever moved from one abiding place to another, the mere statement that 1,300,000 pieces have had to be packed, transported, and unpacked is enough without elaboration. When to this is added the fact that many of the volumes are old and of great value and that two picture galleries have had to be moved as well, there is room for amazement that the readers of the city are not going to be deprived of their books for a longer period.
I hope they remembered to lift with their knees, not with their backs.
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