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Blog Posts by Subject: Reference

Where in New York is Sesame Street?

Can I tell you how to get to Sesame Street? Well, I can try. You can get to the Sesame Street Subway Stop by the A, B, 1, or 2 trains, which if you check any MTA map, do not intersect at any current station.Read More ›

How to Find Historical Photos of New York City

Researchers commonly seek photographs of places in New York as they once existed in history. HistoryPin.com and WhatWasThere.Com have done admirable work in placing historic photos in their geographic context, however they represent but a fraction of available photos, and associated descriptive metadata can vary in accuracy and precision.Read More ›

How to Clean Things

How did you learn how to clean? I guess my parents taught me, and after a few years of chores it just became second nature. Don't mix ammonia and bleach. Sort laundry into light and dark colors. Sweep first before mopping. Make the bed!Read More ›

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 ›

Branch Special Collections

Several branches throughout the three boroughs have special collections that focus on local history or are of special interest to their respective communities.Read More ›

Palaces of Consumption: The History of Department Stores

A.T. Stewart opened New York City’s first department store in 1846. New Yorkers flocked to the palazzo style “Marble Palace," on Broadway between Chambers and Reade Street to browse through a wide array of merchandise arranged by department.Read More ›

Stroke: Medical Information and Social Services

Gaining understanding into the nature and condition of our health, including concepts particular to one's illness can be the best tool in addressing and coping with any medical condition. 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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Researching Orphans in Genealogy

If you have an orphan in your family tree, you may have to go through additional steps to find relevant genealogical records for the orphaned or adopted ancestor. Orphans originating in New York City are not uncommon because of the city's history with the Orphan Train movement.

From the 1850s to the 1920s, the Orphan Train Movement was an organized effort to transport children from overcrowded cities, such as New York City, to foster homes across the country. An estimated 250,000 orphaned, abandoned, or 

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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 crossing the Atlantic for the first time. Mack decides to use it without consulting any 

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Children's Theater in New York City

A patron wrote in to ASK NYPL, the virtual reference service of The New York Public Library, to find out about the state of children's theater in New York City. More specifically, the patron wanted to know the total number of children age 6-11 in each of the five boroughs of the City; the various theaters in the City that feature children's 

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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 not very appealing, as opposed to, say, an

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How to Search The New York Times

Over the years working at the reference desk, I get this question a lot: "Do you have the New York Times on [given date]?" I reply, "YES! Which formats are you interested in seeing? We have some bound copies, microfilms and digital resources." It is one of the most popular primary sources that patrons often want to see.

Whatever the patrons are researching, the NYT is quite useful for a variety of subjects: genealogy, history, social sciences, etc.; the newspaper covered and still covers many international, national, regional and local issues. We 

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Survival: Tips and Resources on How to Survive with Patience and Fortitude

Most New Yorkers do not aim to simply survive, but to thrive. But let’s face it, we’ve all taken it on the chin of late. People from all over, not just New Yorkers, often feel their stress-levels rising. Whether you're trying to survive workplace stress, natural disasters, or physical violence, mental toughness, physical fitness, active participation in your community and 

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Why Your Family Name Was Not Changed at Ellis Island (and One That Was)

There is a myth that persists in the field of genealogy, or more accurately, in family lore, that family names were changed at Ellis Island. They were not. Read More ›

Children's Libraries in New York City

By far the largest number of children's books—especially those for circulation (lending) to children and their families—is to be found at The New York Public Library. The largest collections of children's books in that you can visit are at its Children's Center at 42nd Street as well as the many children's rooms in the 87 neighborhood branches in Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island. There are also children's 

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