Summary of “Review: We the People of ‘Ex Libris'”

The main branch of the New York Public Library – the Beaux-Arts landmark at Fifth Avenue and 42 Street with the stone lions – opened its doors to a ravenous population on May 24, 1911.
More than 50,000 souls are said to have flowed through its marble grandeur, inaugurating what has been an intimate, mutually sustaining union between the public and its library.
In his magnificent new documentary “Ex Libris: The New York Public Library,” Frederick Wiseman takes his camera into those same halls as well as into more humble city branches.
Over many decades and movies, Mr. Wiseman’s great subject has been institutions, places that he once loosely defined as having “Certain kinds of geographical limitations and where at least some of the people have well-established roles.” He’s particularly sensitive to the ebb and flow of humans inside these places and, unsurprisingly, given this documentary’s focus, he seems especially attentive here to the sounds of that flow.
A shot of the main branch’s exterior accompanied by the city’s cacophonous din is answered by a shot of its hushed and vaulted entranceway.
Over time, as he skips across New York, the branches start to fit together as building blocks of the larger institution.
There are more than 90 library branches in New York, and Mr. Wiseman has said that he visited about a dozen during the 12 weeks in 2015 that he shot this movie.
A private equity executive, Mr. Schwarzman donated $100 million to the New York Public Library in 2008, effectively buying the right to have his name on the main branch alongside quotations from immortals like Jorge Luis Borges and Thomas Jefferson.

The orginal article.