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Brooklyn Public Library reveals the list of its most borrowed books


The Brooklyn Public Library is celebrating its 125th anniversary. And to commemorate, the library has published a list of its 125 most borrowed books since the library first opened its doors in 1897.


Among the most borrowed are the classics.

LINDA JOHNSON: Hemingway, Fitzgerald, you know, the great American canon.

MARTIN: That's Linda Johnson, the library's president and CEO. She says the list is as diverse as Brooklyn itself. The Mishna, a collection of oral Jewish law, ranks No. 49 on the list. But one genre is the most popular by far, children's books.

JOHNSON: Fourteen of them were Dr. Seuss books, all books that every generations' kids just gravitate to. And I think there's some magic to those books - I don't know - a secret sauce that seems to work.

MARTÍNEZ: The book in the top spot? "Where The Wild Things Are," by Brooklyn native Maurice Sendak. It's the story of a rambunctious Max who sails off to an island of wild creatures. Since 2015, that book has been checked out of this library over 5,000 times.

MARTIN: For slightly older readers, the library is now expanding its digital services by giving teens outside of New York free access to the library's online collection. And as libraries have become a battleground in the culture wars, Johnson says expanding access to the Brooklyn Library is a big deal.

JOHNSON: We've gotten extraordinary emails, many of them from teenagers who are struggling with issues of sexual identity and say they can't find books that are about LBGTQ issues. There's a lot of race issues that are being scrubbed from library shelves. And so since April, we have signed up over 6,000 new card holders from outside New York. And we've lent over 46,000 items to people, you know, virtually.

MARTIN: So while the Brooklyn Library has been looking back to mark this anniversary, it's also turning a page towards the future.

(SOUNDBITE OF SLUG AND NOE MINA'S "LIGHTHOUSE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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