Often referred to as the "main branch," the Beaux-Arts landmark building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street houses outstanding research collections in the humanities and social sciences as well as a circulating children’s collection. The non-circulating graduate-level collections were initially formed from the consolidation of the Astor and Lenox Libraries, and have evolved into one of the world's preeminent public resources for the study of human thought, action, and experience -- from anthropology and archaeology, to religion, sports, world history, and literature.
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The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is renowned for the extraordinary comprehensiveness of its historical collections as well as its commitment to providing free and equal access to its resources and facilities. It houses some 15 million items, among them priceless medieval manuscripts, ancient Japanese scrolls, contemporary novels and poetry, as well as baseball cards, dime novels, and comic books.
The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is part of The New York Public Library, which consists of four major research libraries and 87 branch libraries located in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island.
The collections of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building illuminate and give meaning to our world and draw researchers from all nations to Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. For over a century, librarians in what are now 15 public service and special collections units have sought out authoritative, popular, and ephemeral materials in the humanities, with an emphasis on literature, art, and history.
These remarkable collections are vast, diverse, and not easily characterized. They range from priceless ancient rarities in the Rare Books and the Manuscripts and Archives divisions to current newspapers from all over the world. More than 1,200 languages and dialects, ancient and modern, are represented in the collections.
The uses of the collections are as varied as the items themselves:
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In addition to collecting the rare as well as the commonplace, it has, since the very beginning, acquired materials often regarded as controversial or even offensive by some. For instance, during the height of McCarthyism in the late 1940s, it actively acquired materials from the Left and the Right, despite the objections of government and citizens' patriotic groups.
The ways in which the resources of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building have been used are as diverse as the collections themselves. To cite but a few examples:
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