By JAMES BARRON
Anna Bennett, a senior at New York University, was puzzled about where to find research material for a nine-page paper. “The topic was ‘Write whatever you want about a food group, recipe or ethnic food,’ ” she said. “The first thing that came to mind was Ethiopian food.”She went online and started an instant-message chat with a librarian deep inside the university’s fortresslike Bobst Library, across West Fourth Street from Washington Square Park: Do you have any cookbooks?
Marvin J. Taylor, director of the Fales Library at New York University, one of the largest food research libraries in the country.
Do we ever, came the reply, or words to that effect. The librarian referred her to Marvin J. Taylor, who presides over a library-within-a-library that has become one of the nation’s largest food-related collections. “He said: ‘Look up this cookbook. I think it would work,’ ” Ms. Bennett recalled. “It did.”
For Mr. Taylor, finding an unusual cookbook is not that unusual because the collection he oversees, the Fales Library, now has more than 50,000 volumes. In February it acquired 21,000 books about food and cooking, donated by George and Jenifer Lang, the longtime owners of Café des Artistes on the Upper West Side.