Subterranean trove of books, papers at risk in NYS Education Building
It is an eerie bibliophile's netherworld, accessible by cramped cages of creaky service elevators, dark and cool and redolent of mildew, old leather bindings and sloughing paper that litters the floor like snowflakes. There is no climate control among miles of metal shelves, and accessing the hundreds of thousands of volumes is an arduous task. From the time a patron requests a book at the State Library, it typically takes two days to retrieve. A clerk drives a van four blocks around the Plaza, descends into the stacks, hunts among the haphazard holdings and drives back with the book.