Moment #009: More Books Needed

POSTED ON: May 17, 2019

Gathering of pupils from the city's grammar schools in The Cooper Union library, Life Illustrated, January 5, 1859.

Gathering of pupils from the city's grammar schools in The Cooper Union library, Life Illustrated, January 5, 1859.


In the trustee's Annual Report, published in July of 1864, they describe the popularity of the public reading room, opened in 1859, and how demand is outpacing the holdings:

THE READING ROOM Occupies one entire floor of this building, and is the natural sequence of the free night instruction, for here all classes have unrestricted admission to the current literature of the day, as well as of the past. It is open, free to all, without tickets, from 8 a. m. until 10 p. m. It is supplied with 160 newspapers and 110 magazines, including all the leading publications of this and foreign countries. The number of foreign papers has not been diminished in consequence of the increased cost, the Trustees believing that the rise in gold rendered it all the more important to furnish these papers to those who might not otherwise be able to get access to them. The number of visitors during the year 1863 was 171,873, an average of nearly 600 per day. The Trustees take this occasion to acknowledge from some unknown friend of popular education, a donation of 537 volumes of standard literature, and to say that there is pressing need of large additions to the Library, and that no more acceptable aid can be given to the Institution than by gifts of books in any de­partment of science and literature. The Library numbers about 4,000 volumes, but should be greatly enlarged in order to meet the demands upon it. The Trustees devoted to the Reading Room and Library the sum of $1,736.50, which is as large a proportion12 of their revenue as they can thus apply without detriment to the other departments.


  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.