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Literary metro: where and why the book train travels near New York

'18.03.2024'

Alina Prikhodko

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If you've ever wondered how books are moved around the giant New York Public Library (NYPL) on Fifth Avenue, you'll be in for a treat. Not on an elevator or escalator or on a book cart. According to Secret nyc, books are transported on a special book train.

The New York Public Library Book Train is the nickname given to the underground conveyor system. It is used to transport books from Milstein Research Stacks near Bryant Park to the Rose Main Reading Room in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building in Midtown.

How it works? When patrons request a specific book, library staff locate it from the stacks on the lower floors, place it in a cart, and send it to the correct location in the building.

Using 50 individual red “trolleys” resembling metal file or magazine boxes and bearing the classic NYPL lion logo, the train travels nearly 300 meters through the tunnel.

On the subject: What you can get for free at the New York Public Library: tablets, English courses, and more

Thanks to their pendulum design, train bogies can easily pivot to ride vertically or horizontally without tipping over precious cargo. A typical trip across the 11 floors takes just five minutes, and each trolley can carry up to 13kg of books.

The Book Train first launched in 2016 and has since grown into a fascinating exhibit. Many visitors do not even suspect that it is moving right under their feet.

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