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Using the Dance Archives: Avenues of Access


Located in the heart of the Lincoln Center complex on Manhattan's Upper West Side, the Jerome Robbins Dance Division is housed on the third floor of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center, along with the research collections in music, recorded sound, and theatre research collections. Knowledgeable staff, expert in all aspects of contemporary and historical dance as well as media preservation and documentation, are available to assist users in their research. Most materials are retrieved from closed stacks upon receipt of a call slip. Additionally, a growing portion of our collection is stored at NYPL's offsite facilities. Researchers can request offsite items for delivery to the library. All materials are noncirculating and must be studied on the premises.

Begin your work at the 2nd floor reference desks. Materials from the Research Collections are accessed on the 3rd floor.

Readers may consult most materials in the Research Collections Reading Room, but rare and fragile items must be used in a staff-supervised reading area, the Katharine Cornell-Guthrie McClintic Room

Locating Material

Bibliographic access to the archive is provided through the Dance Divisions online catalog, which is part of  the online catalog of The New York Public Library. By entering the name of a choreographer, company, performer, dance title, geographic region, or other subject, a user can locate available written, visual, and audio material in the division as well as in other units of The New York Public Library. Access is also provided through publications in book form and CD-ROM form by G. K. Hall: the ten-volume Dictionary Catalog of the Dance Collection (1974), and its annual supplemental volumes, the Bibliographic Guide to Dance, (1975--), the specialized Index to Dance Periodicals (1990--), and the annual cumulative CD-ROM Dance on Disk. The Catalog contains nearly 240,000 bibliographic entries and also serves as a periodical index to more than 35 international dance journals. The staff retrieves material for users from closed stacks upon receipt of a call slip. Available onsite and at research libraries across the US and abroad, the Catalog is particularly valuable to out-of-town researchers.

Viewing Films and Videotapes

A film collection of more than 15,000 titles is available to researchers on a daily, first-come, first-served basis, without appointment. A limited number of films require written permission from the donor before they can be viewed. Call 212- 870-1657.

Electronic Resources

The division provides access to selected electronic databases and web resources. Some electronic resources can be accessed by users from home, office, or school through the Library's Website. Other electronic resources are available only for on-site use at the Library for the Performing Arts.

Reference Service

The division's professional staff can answer brief reference queries by phone at 212-870-1657. The information provided ranges from verification of production dates to sources for the rental and purchase of dance films and videotapes. The division also accepts reference queries by e-mail (, fax (212-870-1869), and regular mail. For queries that require in-depth research or extensive searching, contact AskNYPL Express by e-mail (, telephone (212-592-7207), or fax (212-592-7215). This fee-based service may also be accessed here.

Copy Services

Within copyright restrictions, a copy service on the premises duplicates materials for a fee. For conservation reasons, photocopying of rare and fragile material is restricted. Such items may sometimes be reproduced by other methods.

Off-site requests for photocopies may be addressed to Interlibrary & Document Services through the online order form, by email (, telephone (212-592-7200), or fax (212-391-2502). Requests for photographs, microfilm, and digital images may be made to the Office of Photographic Services & Permissions by e-mail (, telephone (212-930-9270), or fax (212-221-3423). Pricing information is available upon request or may be found on the Library's website (; credit cards are accepted.

The use of materials from the Library's collections for publication, broadcast, or other commercial purpose requires permission from the Library. For further information, contact Ask NYPL Express.