A widely-shared photo by the blog Humans of New York railing against the New York Public Library's planned renovations sparked an outpouring of support against those plans, but the photo and its message's accuracy has since been called into question.
As it does several times a day, the popular photography account Humans of New York posted a photo of a person on the streets of New York and a short funny/interesting/inspirational quote from them. Tuesday morning's post featured a chicken-eating man who said he worked at the library and lamented its upcoming renovations.
The last two lines are particularly striking. "When everything is finished, one of the greatest research libraries in the world will become a glorified internet cafe," the man says. "Now read that back to me," he adds in a call-to-arms type final line. That man, identified on Twitter as Matthew Zadrozny, is an active library user who has organized opposition to the coming changes to the library.
Zadrozny and his message took off from there, were widely shared on Facebook, Twitter, and beyond, and reignited the Save the 42nd Street Library petition email to Mayor Bill de Blasio. The image also was shared among those who like to look at attractive library-defending men.
I have three different female FB friends all swooning over today's Humans of New York guy. https://t.co/m5DPsxlPxM— Tom Gara (@tomgara) February 25, 2014
As with many viral-spreading photos, the message isn't completely accurate. Because of the image's popularity, Humans of New York posted a rare off-message rebuttal to the original, via the NYPL. For starters, though Zadrozny may work at the library's location, he is not employed by the library. And his warnings of gloom and doom may be overstated as well.
The first claim, that Zadrozny in fact does not work there, is more a problem of ambiguity. Zadrozny works at the library in the sense that many researchers and New Yorkers perform their own work while located at the library. But he is not employed by the library system.