Each year, Library Lions honors distinguished individuals who have made significant cultural and educational achievements to increase our understanding of the world around us.
This video features Library President Paul LeClerc, who was recognized as a 2010 Library Lion.
his is the 17th letter I've penned for The New York Public Library's Annual Report, and as I step down as President of this magnificent organization, I'd like to use this occasion to begin thanking the millions of people who have supported the Library, and my efforts here, during these momentous years.
It's no doubt a cliché at this point to say that this has been a transformative period for our Library, because the digital revolution that changed us also swept through virtually every corner of global society, altering how information is created and distributed, how business is conducted, how people learn, and how they connect with one another.
Our choice at the Library, I believe, was not simply to adapt to the digital environment. Rather, it was to wholeheartedly embrace its potential to energize our staff and expand our services and our outreach. Our choice was also to deliberately exploit digital advances so as to become an authentic leadership library in this new era.
That we have succeeded is without question. NYPL's website, nypl.org, is now the second most popular library website in the world — after the Library of Congress's — and is the leading website among New York City cultural organizations.
More than 25 million readers are now visiting us virtually each year, coming from 230 countries and territories. In 2010, the content of just one of our many digital products — the Digital Gallery, consisting of 740,000 images, all free of copyright — was viewed 123 million times. In addition, we pioneered in creating highly innovative, educationally oriented, interactive versions of our exhibits, experimenting with Candide at 250: Scandal and Success as a notable example of our new orientation to on-line exhibits.
We have also leveraged the power of social media to bring the Library and its resources to local and global audiences. Our hugely successful LIVE from the NYPL programs can be seen on YouTube, for example, and images from our exceptional photography collections are featured on Flickr. Some 50 of our librarians are now blogging about our collections and services for a global audience, and we proudly boast that we have more Facebook friends and Twitter followers than any other public library.
At the same time, our commitment to the traditional functions of libraries —
to collect physical objects and to preserve and make them accessible to the public — is unshakeable. In the past year, our system of neighborhood libraries became the highest circulating library in America, with more than 24 million items being borrowed by the public. Physical visits reached nearly 18 million, participation in programs system-wide reached 825,905, and there were 4.4 million computer sessions.
Notable acquisitions in our four research libraries included the papers of Maya Angelou, a cache of correspondence by Jack Kerouac, the Hubert's Museum Archive containing 27 previously unknown Diane Arbus photographs, and an extremely rare map of New York State from 1829 (the only other known copy is at the Library of Congress).
Our commitment to high-quality library facilities is also undiminished. In the past year, we opened a new location in Battery Park City, completed the full renovation of a historic one, St. Agnes, on the Upper West Side, made major progress on the restoration of the facade and roof of our historic library at Fifth Avenue, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, and broke ground for a new library at Mariners Harbor on Staten Island.
Credit for all of these accomplishments, and many others, is widely shared. The Library's wonderfully engaged and supportive Trustees; our extraordinarily creative and responsive staff members and volunteers, led with authentic brilliance by our Senior Management Group; deeply committed elected officials at the City, State, and Federal levels; and our extraordinarily generous private-sector donors — individuals, foundations, and corporations — have all been instrumental in making 2010 a highly successful year for the Library, in spite of the economic downturn.
To all of them, I am immensely grateful, as I am to all who over the past 17 years have been my colleagues, friends, counselors, and supporters. If The New York Public Library is the best of all possible libraries, it is because of them.