Jefferson Market Library, the people’s palace to celebrate the arts in Greenwich Village

“It’s the People’s Palace, “ says Jefferson Market Library manager Frank Collerius as he describes the upcoming bevy of late afternoon, after-hours events scheduled for Dec. 2 at the Greenwich Village’s 6th Ave. branch library.  

And, what would be a more fitting venue for a neighborhood HAPPENING than a 19th-century Victorian Gothic edifice?

The beloved neighborhood branch was closed for two and a half years starting in 2019 for renovation and COVID closure. This past July, Jefferson Market reopened to ribbon cutting fanfare and a big bash neighborhood reception. 

“We wanted to do something different,”  says Librarian Corinne Neary who is organizing the Dec. 2,  5 pm through 7 pm after-hours event.  “This will be a night out art market—an art exhibit with six local artists, a jazz band, and a book swap.”

Posters scattered about in the basement level.(Photo by Tequila Minsky)

The Happening 

Neighbors and friends will convene for more than just the literary. 

John C. Fields, Nick Golebewski, Jason Clay Lewis, Jennifer Prevat, Alex J Reyes, and Sato Yamamoto will be sharing samples of their collage, mixed media, paper sculptural forms, printmaking and drawing.

The Rocco John Trio —Rocco John Iacovone, sax; Jack Desalvo, guitar; Phil Sirois, double bass—will provide the proper jazz ambiance.  

Meanwhile, attendees are invited to swap and trade books.  And,  you don’t need to bring a book to take a book!  “This pre-holiday party celebrates the arts,” says Neary. 

Access to books, multi-media materials, related activities and undisturbed places to read are the very essence of public libraries and branch manager and Collerius carries out inspired uses of the building’s space that go beyond the traditional. 

“We’re the perfect place. We have a lot of space to meet up for free,” Collerius opines. “And we have so much fun.” (He cites recent  October programming in the building—“Haunted House” Fridays—a  haus of haunts, an immersive experience inspired by Emily Dickinson.)

Neary comments that “10 years ago, it wasn’t anything like this.”  Clearly, the library is now more than just a place to get books.  “These programs bring people in. And, in-person programming is booming.” She adds, “After COVID, everybody wants to come in person.”

New computers on the lower level.(Photo by Tequila Minsky)

Regarding the renovations

The major improvement renovations include an upgraded elevator and an accessible ramp entrance from W. 10th  St.  It provides ease in access for strollers, rollator walkers, and others who are mobility challenged. 

An expanded bright lobby entrance, lobby adds another room to the public space.  Renovations removed the drop ceiling there and also exposed stained glass and windows, previously covered.  This room now in part serves as a “get children situated room” for nannies and is a space where cell phones can be used. 

Comfy seatings for reading are scattered around the second-floor main reading room. Charging outlets on the long reading room table for those using their laptops are one visible sign of meeting the community’s high-tech needs. This also includes a more robust wifi connection and new public-use computers in the basement level/reference room where there is also a bathroom.

The new ramp entered from W. 10th S. provides acessibility.(Photo by Tequila Minsky)

Jefferson Market Library is a  striking New York City landmark building on 6th Ave. and W. 10th St. It was designed in a Victorian Gothic style by architects Frederick Clark Withers and Calvert Vaux (who also assisted in the design of Central Park) and was erected between 1875 and 1877. Originally a courthouse— civil and police, the basement floor was used as a holding area for prisoners on their way to jail or trial. The looming tower houses the bell that would summon volunteer firemen.

This branch has served the Greenwich Village community for over 40 years and Collerius—a librarian for 30 years— has been here since 1999. He’s so looking forward to the jazz/art expo/book swap with his neighbors in their house of books. 

Jefferson Market is one of only a handful of NYPL branches open every day of the week. Hours are weekdays 10-8 pm, Saturdays 10-5 pm, and Sundays 1-5 pm.

A library within a Victorian Gothic building.(Photo by Tequila Minsky)
The main reading room with comfy chairs and a work table with charging outlets.(Photo by Tequila Minsky)
(Photo by Tequila Minsky)
The expanded lobby also reveals previously covered stained glass windows.(Photo by Tequila Minsky)