Donors Help Library Satisfy Appetite for Cooking Books

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April 5, 2011; Source: New York Times | Thanks to the generosity of donors, New York University's Fales Library is able to sate the appetite for scholars researching food and cooking. In just the past 10 years, the library's collection of food-related titles has grown to 50,000. That includes its most recent acquisition last February of 21,000 books from the personal collection of well-known restaurateurs, and owners of the former Café des Artistes in New York City, George and Jennifer Lang.

As a result, the Fales Libary is today considered home to one of the largest culinary collections in the country, according to the New York Times. "Within a very short time, they’ve built up the best food collection in the country,” said food writer Betty Fussell. There are plenty of delicious titles to feast on, and although it's an academic library, not everything is a scholarly tome. More down to earth, even practical titles, include: “For Gourmets with Ulcers," “The Palm-Aire Spa Seven-Day Plan to Change Your Life," and “Cooking for Orgies and Other Large Parties,” a book from the 1960s.

The library began its stellar growth about a decade ago when, with help from an anonymous donor, it was able to purchase for $115,000 some 10,000 books, including an autographed first edition of “The Joy of Cooking,” that belonged to Cecily Brownstone, the food editor of The Associated Press from 1947 to 1986.—Bruce Trachtenberg