November 12, 2008

N.Y. Public Library Puts Its ‘Treasures’ Online

By Anne Godlasky

The New York Public Library quietly rolled out a new video series last month. Titled "Treasures," it showcases 11 gems of the library's vast collection of more than 50 million items.

And since then it has joined Facebook, broadening an online reach that already included YouTube and iTunes pages to gain more of an audience -- which, for one of the world's largest public libraries, includes "everybody from preschool toddlers to the greatest writers in the world," says president Paul LeClerc.

Curators and administrators whittled a list of hundreds of ideas to record videos of the most "visually grabbing," says director David Ferriero.

The library has made the videos available on its site,, as well as on YouTube -- where its photography piece has drawn more than 13,000 views.

Through the library's website and its iTunes page, you can "check out" e-books, audiobooks and music; they disappear from your computer or iPod on the due date.

Although the number of people visiting the library has remained steady at about 16 million a year, more people are using its digital resources. But LeClerc says it's important to "break the naive bubble where people assume eventually everything's going to be online."

"There's just too much stuff, especially the non-book materials," he says. Looking online "is really like the first lick of an ice cream cone. And then if you want to eat the ice cream cone, you have to come to the library." (c) Copyright 2008 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc. <>