The New York Public Library has been an essential provider of free books, information, ideas, and education for all New Yorkers for more than 100 years. Founded in 1895, NYPL is the nation’s largest public library system, featuring a unique combination of 88 neighborhood branches and four scholarly research centers, bringing together an extraordinary richness of resources and opportunities available to all.
Serving more than 18 million patrons a year, and millions more online, the Library holds more than 51 million items, from books, e-books, and DVDs to renowned research collections used by scholars from around the world. Housed in the iconic 42nd Street library and three other research centers, NYPL’s historical collections hold such treasures as Columbus’s 1493 letter announcing his discovery of the New World, George Washington’s original Farewell Address, and John Coltrane’s handwritten score of “Lover Man.”
NYPL’s neighborhood libraries in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island—many of which date to Andrew Carnegie’s visionary philanthropy at the turn of the 20th century—are being transformed into true centers of educational innovation and service, vital community hubs that provide far more than just free books and materials. Our local libraries play a key role in closing the digital divide, especially for the one in three New Yorkers who don’t have Internet access at home. New York City public school students rely on their local branches for homework help. The city’s immigrant communities count on NYPL’s English language and literacy classes. Job seekers depend on our comprehensive job search resources. Altogether, the Library offers 55,000 free programs annually, serving everyone from toddlers to teens to seniors.
In the always expanding digital realm, The New York Public Library provides patrons worldwide with powerful online tools to help them discover its extensive resources and services. On nypl.org visitors can browse the Library’s immense collections, download e-books, and view more than 800,000 items from our award-winning Digital Gallery. Through Ask NYPL our librarians are available to answer patron questions on any topic at any time.
Supported by both public funds and private donations, The New York Public Library embarks on its next 100 years passionately committed to meeting the ever-changing needs of our patrons. For the millions who depend on us in this, the world’s most vibrant and diverse city, NYPL is more important than ever.
Top photos by Beowulf Sheehan, bottom photo by Jonathan Blanc