Librarians seem like the bookish types who hang out by stacks and make friends with moldy books. But David Smith, 54, a supervising librarian in the Allen Room and the Wertheim Study at the Humanities and Social Sciences Library on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, is apparently hobnobbing with the stars. He is their "Virgil of the New York Public Library,” Alexander Rose, author of Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring, told The New York Times, “guiding innocents and counseling the wise alike as he leads them gently away from error and toward intellectual enlightenment.”
This month he organized a holiday reception in the ornate trustees room honoring authors who have availed themselves of the library’s collections. Among the dozens invited, many of whom have thanked Mr. Smith in their acknowledgments, were Nick Tosches, Ira Berkow, Jimmy Breslin, Marilyn Johnson, Mark W. Lee, Laura Claridge, Neil Cowan, Owen Sheers and Colson Whitehead, as well as John Wolfson, the curator of rare books at the Globe Theater in London, and Gino Francesconi, director of the Carnegie Hall archives. Mr. Blount was the host.
“One of the things that was so flabbergasting about the event,” said Mr. Margolick, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and the author of “Beyond Glory,” about the Joe Louis-Max Schmeling fights, “was you think you’re the only one who’s getting this precious help, that you have your own personal librarian at the greatest library in the world, and then you behold a whole roomful of people for whom he’s done precisely the same thing.”
David Ferriero, Andrew W. Mellon director of the New York Public Libraries, surveyed the crowd of authors and said, “It came home to me what a significant difference David and this library have played in the creative voices of the city.”