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Fifth Ave. and 42nd St. (Midtown West)
New York, NY
(1) 917-275-6975 | www.nypl.org
HOURS/TIMESMon.: 10:00am-6:00pm; Tue.-Wed.: 10:00am-8:00pm; Thurs.-Sat.: 10:00am-6:00pm; Sun.: 1:00am-5:00pm
RESERVE IN ADVANCENo
WAIT TIME WITHOUT RESERVATIONNone
HIGHLIGHTSGutenberg Bible; Rose Main Reading Room; Astor Hall; McGraw Rotunda
SUBWAY42nd St.-Bryant Park (B, D, F, M, 7); Grand Central-42nd St. (4, 5, 6, 7, S); Times Sq.-42nd St. (1, 2, 3, 7, N, Q, R, S)
Since it opened in 1911, this imposing Beaux-Arts building has been welcoming New York’s readers and researchers with open arms. As one of the largest public libraries in the country, its holdings are understandably, well, encyclopedic: among the two million volumes and artifacts held in the building (so, not even counting the archives held offsite), you can find everything from a copy of the Declaration of Independence handwritten by Thomas Jefferson to a Gutenberg Bible, a full New York Times archive, and the original stuffed animals that inspired A. A. Milne while writing Winnie the Pooh…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. (The entire holdings for all 90 locations total over 50 million volumes.) Besides impressive literary holdings, lavishly furnished reading rooms, and hallways lined with priceless artworks, the library also offers a busy program of free events like film screenings, author readings, concerts, and exhibitions.
GO HERE WITH
Bibliophiles; friends; a date; kids
WHY WE LIKE IT
Even just sitting between the iconic stone lions (nicknamed Patience and Fortitude) on the wide stone steps at the entrance as researchers hurry past is an evocative New York experience, but we also like heading inside and checking out the exhibitions, the grand reading rooms, and the artwork scattered around the building. For nerdy booklovers (like us!), the tours are really interesting too–you’ll learn a lot about the colorful characters associated with the library.
WHAT WE WOULD CHANGE
Due to budget constraints, the opening hours at this and many of the other branches of the New York Public Library are being reduced, which is disappointing. Also, the set-up of this location means you can’t really browse the stacks, which are kept behind closed doors–a let-down if you’re a hardcore bibliophile.
GOOD TO KNOW
Check the library’s website for more info about the many, many free events and exhibitions on offer. Free guided tours of the library (Monday-Saturday 11:00am and 2:00pm; Sunday 2:00pm) and of the exhibitions (Monday-Saturday 12:30pm and 2:30pm; Sunday 3:30pm) meet at the reception desk in Astor Hall. For researchers who can’t make it here in person, check out the library’s premium research services–specialist librarians will find and email or post your requested documents. Also, the New York Public Library is working with Google to digitize its collections, although to date its texts are not searchable online. Finally, the flagship building of the New York Public Library is the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue, but the library also runs dozens of other locations around the city. (The Schwarzman building is not a lending library, but most of the other locations are.)
The Morgan Library & Museum (New York); Library of Congress (Washington, DC)
All information within this website was checked for accuracy at the time of publication. But since the world moves quickly, things may have changed. Pardon us for any errors as we strive to give you the most up-to-the-minute details!