Celebrating Research

  Library Overviews & Collection Profiles Contact:
ARL Web Manager

The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations

Library Overview

The rarity and quality of the special collections in the Research Libraries of the New York Public Library set them apart from other historical archives, and their diversity distinguishes them from the majority of museum collections. The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts contains some of the largest archives in the world for dance, theater, recorded sound, and music; the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is one of the largest repositories in the world documenting the experience of peoples of African origin and descent, with more than 5 million items. They function in turn as museums, documentation centers, cultural centers, and as libraries for the communities they serve. The eight special collection units in the Humanities and Social Sciences Library include the Manuscripts and Archives Division, which alone contains over 3,500 collections. The Print Collection's 18,000 original 19th-century American prints are of special note, as are the Japanese prints from the 10th century to the present. Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature is world renowned for its manuscript holdings of American and British authors and literary movements; the Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle documents Shelley, his contemporaries, and their social, political, and cultural age. The rare book collections are rich in Americana, particularly books printed in the Americas before 1801. The Photography Collection, youngest of the special collections, documents the medium from its earliest years to contemporary works intended for exhibition and the art market. All collections are open to scholars and the public, contribute to a full exhibitions program and to digitization projects, and provide the basis for public programming, lectures, and classes.

The New York Public Library
Research Libraries
Fifth Avenue & 42nd Street
New York, New York 10018
(212) 930-0711 (t)
(212) 865-3567 (f)