2005_12_mapdivision1.jpgThe incredibly beautiful map room at the New York Public Library is reopening on Thursday after a nine-month renovation-- just in time for the holidays. The New York Times has all the details on the work and also gives some info on the size of the library's map holdings:

Newly restored is the 40-foot-by-35-foot main map-reference reading room, with its 20-foot-tall plaster Beaux-Arts ceiling densely encrusted with designs of fruits, vegetables, dragons and cherubs in its original vivid color palette of gilt, green and vermillion...

The division's collection of almost 420,000 maps, atlases and cartographic books will have tables wired for laptop plug-ins. The map room - actually two rooms and a mezzanine - will have more than 360 storage shelves, some of them measuring 5 by 7 1/2 feet, 900 map drawers and 1,800 additional drawers in storage rooms under Bryant Park, where the temporary ice rink is situated. The reconstruction "has been very labor intensive," said Scott Walker, the project superintendent for some 60 hard hats working for F. J. Sciame Construction Company, "especially putting in the 4-inch-by-4-inch squares of gilt," he said of the reading-room ceiling.

If you can't wait to take see the collection in person, check out these highlights from the Map Division, or spend a few hours searching their full online library. And if you are looking for a globe, the NYPL's online store has quite a few.