Sometimes during a big, fat, slushy snowstorm it seems like nothing in this world could draw you out of hibernation and onto the streets – but even the most hardened winter hermit could be coaxed into warming up in a giant, ornate high-ceilinged hall filled with oil paintings and beautiful old editions of books, or in an archive filled with thousands of videos or illustrations. Here are a few branches worth spending an afternoon in:

New York Picture Library: Look up and scan images of anything from Accidents to Burma, Cartoons, Quails, Rainbows or Sunsets.
Location: Picture Collection, Third Floor / 455 5th Avenue at 40th St.

Art & Architecture Room: You can’t take out any of the books, but you can xerox them. Write down the titles and the staff will bring you a stack. Look up anything from Outsider Art to Mati Klarwein to one of many titles on how to construct a tent in the wild.
Location: Room 300 / 42nd St. & 5th Avenue Branch of The New York Public Library

Film/Video Collection: This branch holds many thousands of videocassettes and DVDs of anything you can think of, including documentaries, world cinema, educational videos and video art, all to be watched for free at any time. Also at this branch: Music & recorded sound collections, including world music and whacked-out experimental recordings. Go crazy.
Location: Donnell Media Center / 40 Lincoln Plaza between 5th ave & 6th ave

For more info and hours, visit http://www.nypl.org

Price: F-R-E-E

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About Jay Babcock

I am an independent writer and editor based in Tucson, Arizona. In 2023: I publish an email newsletter called LANDLINE = https://jaybabcock.substack.com Previously: I co-founded and edited Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curated the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages, Grand Royal and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was somehow listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. From 2010 to 2021, I lived in rural wilderness in Joshua Tree, Ca.

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