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Blog Posts by Subject: Reference

Reference Book List: A Selection of 'Classic' Artist Manuals

Although we may not know for sure that a certain artist consulted a certain manual, they provide important clues. In a way, these books tell a story about the history of art from the point of view of the practitioners.Read More ›

Booktalking "The Invisible Web" by Chris Sherman and Gary Price

We were lucky to have Gary Price present a workshop at the Library on keeping up with the latest technological developments. On some level, I knew that there were portions of the Internet that were only accessible if you know the URL. However, I was not well versed on the exact differences between the web and the Internet and exactly how search engines work before I read this book. In fact, a family member recently launched a web site for his wedding that is only accessible for users who have a user name and password. Even if other people accidentally happened upon the web site, they would 

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Booktalking "DSM-5" by American Psychiatric Association

Want to find out what criteria mental health professionals use to diagnose mental disorders? Here are a few conditions and disorders (complete with classification numbers) that are either new in this edition of the DSM, or that I had not heard of prior to perusing this fascinating tome.Read More ›

2013 in Reference and Recommendations

Whether you come to The New York Public Library looking for something good to read or to find that missing bit of information you needed, we hope you were able to find what you were looking for in 2013. We're always here to help, and we hope to see you again next year!Read More ›

How to Research a Quotation

Researching a quotation can be fun, but it's not always easy and many times may require some serious digging.

There are quotes that no matter how hard we try, no author can be determined nor a source found. There are also quotes that have been attributed to so many authors that it is almost impossible to ascertain who actually said it first. Many quotes, especially famous quotes, are often misquoted by speakers, politicians, and the media which sometimes makes it much more difficult to identify an author and or a source. Some quotes are also not quotes at all, but 

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Research Like a Librarian: Using "Big6 Skills" for Better Grades!

PSSSTT! Let me let you in on a little librarian research secret: finding information at branches and online isn't hard (anyone can do it). In fact, in this digital age of online databases, Google and Wikipedia we are on information overload. We are surrounded by too much information actually. So how do librarians research? What do we know that you don't?

Well, we know how to evaluate information, dissect it, analyze it, reassemble it and put it to use effectively. One way to do this is through the "

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Around the World with Travel Guides

In Europe on 5 Wrong Turns a Day, Doug Mack takes a decades old travel guide and puts it to the modern-day test. Arthur Frommer's 1963 edition of Europe on 5 Dollars a Day (we still have several of these in our collections available for your perusal) was the book that got regular Americans, including Mack's mother, excited about 

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On the Origin of Some Phrases

Growing up, I used to hear the phrase "what do you want, egg in your beer?" all the time. Although I have many occasions in which I'd like to use it, I never have because I know it would only garner perplexing looks. I looked into it recently and it's from WWII and it seems to be somewhat self-explanatory as egg in beer is 

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The Fascinating Phonebook

The phrase "I'd rather be reading the phonebook" as a (mildly) preferable alternative to boring tasks has given telephone directories a bad reputation. One that I admit I never thought to put to question before. Recently, however, when Special Formats Processing began working on a large collection of telephone directories from the United States and numerous countries around the world, I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable the directories turned out to be. Of course, there isn't time to actually read any phonebook cover to cover (although the covers themselves can be very 

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Factcheck Your Friends: Misinformation on Social Media

New Yorkers experienced two major life events in the past few weeks: a superstorm and a hotly contested presidential election. Those two events have more in common than you might think. They both stressed us out. They both left us blurry with some of the details... what happened and what didn't, what was said and what was only hearsay. What was underreported and what was blown way out of proportion.

With social media 

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On the Trivial Pursuit of Useless Information

I don't have a very good memory of the fiction books I read and enjoyed as a child. What I do remember is an obsession with encyclopedias, almanacs, atlases, the

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Hey! Got Homework?

Does the word homework make you cringe in your seat?

Well, you can find complete, trustworthy information a lot faster using the Library's databases.

Here’s how to access NYPL’s databases:

  Go to www.nypl.org   Go to "Research"   Click on "Articles and Databases" (databases are listed in alphabetical order)

If you are not accessing the database on site at the Library, simply enter the number on the back of your library 

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United States Sanitary Commission Processing Project: What’s My Line?

Picture an archival version of those 1950s quiz shows — “I’ve Got a Secret” or “What’s My Line” — where panelists try to guess the identity, occupation or special talent of the contestant. This is an episode in the ongoing United States Sanitary Commission (USSC) series, where project staff members do their best to analyze and accurately describe the volumes and documents at hand, asking the usual questions: who, what, where, when? What activities do these materials reflect?

Some background: During the USSC’s 

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Celebrating the Centennial: The Tilden Library

Detail of Vernon Howe Bailey's drawing of the "Tilden Library" reading roomContrary to what you may have heard — or thought you heard, at least — this year does not mark the centennial of The New York Public Library. The centennial marks the opening of what many still think of as the Library's "main branch" on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, the Beaux-Arts landmark recently rechristened the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. But we could also call it the centennial of the Tilden Library, as I'll 

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How Words Evolve… a Darwinian look a the English Language

On a rainy, spring evening in May, Patricia T. O’Conner, former editor of the New York Times Book Review and author of Woe is I  and Origins of the Specious gave a talk at the Mid-Manhattan Library, for the 4th year in a row, entitled, “How Words Evolve… a Darwinian look at the English Language."  You might think a talk on grammar would be drab—it was anything but.  She 

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Postscript to "Kippenberger's Quixote": The Missing Piece

About a week after my most recent post, something extraordinary happened. Regina Fiorito, a representative of the Estate of Martin Kippenberger (represented by the Galerie Gisela Capitain in Cologne) contacted the Library about it. "We would like to be in touch with Kathie Coblentz from the Spencer Collection, we read her blog today about a Kippenberger book. We (The Estate 

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This Just In! New Books March 2011

Below are a few of the newest books to hit NYPL shelves...

If you see something you like, simply click on the title and you will be able to request a copy from the NYPL catalog.

To learn more about a particular author or book, click on the person's name to be redirected to a biographical summary or book review within the NYPL database Biography in Context.

The following summaries were taken from the NYPL catalog.

FICTION

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Spencer Collection Book of the Month: Kippenberger's Quixote

Kippenberger's Don Quijote de la Mancha book object (detail)When is a book not a book? For this month's Spencer Collection Book of the Month, I have a couple of answers in mind.

From the point of view of contemporary art, the answer might be, "When it's a book object."—"Art which makes use of the book format or the structure of the book; typically ... unique sculptural works that take the form of, or incorporate, 

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Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism 2011

Ryan Haley, Billy Parrott, Erminio D'Onofrio, Karen VanWestering, Jennifer Craft, and Maira Liriano with the 2011 Bernstein Award finalistsThe Library’s Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism was established in 1987, through a gift from Joseph Frank Bernstein to the New York Public Library, in honor of journalist Helen Bernstein (now Helen Bernstein Fealy). The gift was in two parts and the idea was to focus on Helen’s love and appreciation of the crucial role that journalism and 

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Spencer Collection Book of the Month: A Wotton Binding

Volume bound for Thomas Wotton (Detail)After I'd spent four Sunday evenings in January engrossed in the doings of the Earl of Grantham and his household on the PBS "Masterpiece Classic" series Downton Abbey, this month's choice for Spencer Collection Book of the Month was obvious: a book that lingered for more than three centuries in the company of barons and earls, before being exiled from their presence in exchange for cold, hard cash.

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