I recently met Tony Marx, the president of the New York Public Library (and former President of Amherst College).

As you know, New York City is in the midst of a terrible crisis following Hurricane Sandy. Hundreds of thousands of people are without heat, hot water, electricity, or food.

Guess where many are finding refuge?

I received the following email from Tony Marx just minutes ago:

“I am here at Mid-Manhattan [a major branch library] which like 61 branches is open for second day despite subway problems and no schools. You should see this scene: every chair and inch of floor and rug being used by rich and poor, black and white, young and old New yorkers to read and write and work. Admin staff volunteering to fill in for those who can’t get to work. Amazing. We did have to cancel our Lions gala as we don’t have electricity in the main building but we can donate all the food to folks in Staten Island, where the news is getting more grim, I am told.”

The Lions gala is the library’s biggest annual fund-raiser. How wonderful that the food that was destined for that lavish event will feed people in Staten Island, which was the borough that was hardest hit by the hurricane.

Just a reminder of how valuable our public libraries are.