How a Horror-Loving Librarian Spends His Sundays

The “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” series, by Alvin Schwartz, were the first books to have a deep effect on Rafael Rodriguez.

“The books scared me to the point where I couldn’t read them at night,” he said. “That’s when I fell in love with horror and with books.”

Now Mr. Rodriguez, 43, is a librarian and the circulation supervisor at the New York Society Library, which has resided on East 79th Street since 1937. Founded almost two centuries earlier, the landmark tome haven is the oldest membership library in New York.

Now Mr. Rodriguez helps others enjoy — and locate — a good read as well.

“Members come in looking for a particular book but can only tell me part of a title or what they think the author’s name is,” said Mr. Rodriguez, who earned a master’s degree in library science at Queens College, and who counts Stephen King among his favorite authors. “Finding what they are looking for requires detective work. It’s the ultimate reward to find something a member is trying to locate.”

Mr. Rodriguez, who lives in his childhood home on the Upper West Side with his parents, Rafael Rodriguez, 84, and Pilar Rodriguez, 78, doesn’t “have an issue living with them,” he said. “We’ve learned to give each other space, and it’s the only way I could afford to live in Manhattan.”

Mr. Rodriguez eating breakfast in his bedroom.Credit…Sarah Blesener for The New York Times
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