Libraries Round the World: At the UN

For anyone concerned about climate change, gender equality, poverty, and other critical issues facing all of us, take a break while in New York City to visit the United Nations. The UN has frequent, one-hour tours at reasonable prices, and I was able to arrange a visit last week. This was my second visit, but the first one was so many years ago that it was well worth repeating. 

Not only do you have a knowledgeable guide to show you exhibits on various UN initiatives, you are also allowed to tour the uniquely decorated meeting and discussion venues. During our tour, one official session was due to start right after we left.

In the UN’s lobby, they had some special exhibits. Heavy topics – one, on slavery, and the other, on female genital cutting (FGC) which, sadly, is still legal and performed in some countries. 

During the tour, you get a chance to see artwork from a variety of countries located throughout the building and outside on the plaza located next to the East River. 

The basement level has a cafe and a bookstore open to visitors. The UN’s library is located on the southern end of the complex in one of the original 1950 buildings, but I didn’t get to visit. It’s not open to the public, but according to their website, some digital documents can be borrowed. 

For another special, more under-the-radar place to visit just a block away: stop by the Ford Foundation. The building’s lobby looks like what an orangutan might consider paradise. Don’t believe me? See my photo. And they have an art gallery open to the public, for humans after they’ve swung through the forest. 

Inside the Ford Foundation

Karen Stensgaard loves visiting libraries, even if she only sees them from the outside. Her home office is full of books to catch up on anyway. She is the author of two published novels, Aquavit and Blueness, in the Aquamarine Sea series. 


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