Miss Reading in Public? Bring the Sounds of the Library to Your Home

The New York Public Library has compiled an album of noises we miss—including the sound of the library itself

Photo by GoToVan
If you enjoy reading Electric Literature, join our mailing list! We’ll send you the best of EL each week, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming submissions periods and virtual events.

If you live in New York, there are probably a lot of noises you miss right now. Neighbors on their stoops, the bustle of a lively park, the chaos of a crowded bar—even rush hour honks sound pretty good compared to eerie silence and ambulance wails. And if you don’t live in New York, but you’re still sheltering at home, you might be pining for the sound of… well, literally anything else besides your own house.

We’ve been particularly nostalgic for the quiet hum of a busy bookstore or library. And apparently the library’s been thinking of us, too. The New York Public Library has released an album of all the sounds you might miss—including the sound of the New York Public Library, which closed all its branches in mid-March.

Each track, NYPL says, contains its own little narrative: “The Library recording, for example, follows a New Yorker entering a branch, running into a tour group, interacting with a helpful librarian looking to make a reading recommendation, walking past a toddler story time and then sitting down to begin quiet work.”

Now you can put on the album, close your eyes, and pretend you’re surrounded by sunbathers, subway dancers, cab drivers, and drunks—when in fact, if my house is any indication, you’re only surrounded by drunks. Or, if you like your social activity to contain a little social isolation at the best of times, just rent an e-book from NYPL’s curated lists and put the library track on repeat.

More Like This

How to Arrange a Poetry Collection Using Mix Tape Rules

I was at a loss for how to order my collection until I turned to an older, more instinctive art form: the music mix

Mar 5 - Rachelle Toarmino

Everyone Else Is in Love and I’m Just Listening to Taylor Swift

I don't have or want a romantic relationship—but her music taught me love isn't what we think it is

Feb 11 - Laura Dzubay

If I Don’t Go to Heaven, at Least I’ll Have Mariah Carey

As a teen, I wanted to avoid sin—but Mariah offered a fantasy I'm still trying to attain

Feb 2 - Seema Reza
Thank You!