Circulating Music Collection

Second Floor

Phone: (917) 275-6975

Fully accessible to wheelchairs

Despite its large size, the circulating music collection contains only a fraction of the available music in print. Selection of titles and types of music are based primarily on the interest of our public as they have developed over the past eighty years ever since the Circulating Music Collection was established in 1924 as part of the 58th St. Branch.

The score collection is strong in the following:

  • Opera
  • Musical Comedy
  • Oratorios, Christmas carols, and other sacred music
  • Songs (in collections, not individual sheet music), both classical and popular
  • Orchestral scores, especially miniature scores. Orchestral parts are available through membership in the Orchestra Collection
  • Solo music for common and uncommon western instruments
  • Selective method books for learning to play musical instruments
  • Chamber music score and parts for strings, winds and brasses in both usual and unusual combinations

The score collection is weak in the following:

  • Choral music (esp. short works written and arranged for chorus)
  • School musicals, operettas, and other classroom material
  • Jazz ensembles, e.g., we have no Big Band charts (jazz transcriptions for solo instruments and jazz songbooks are available)

The Book Collection

Circulating and Reference books are available on musicians and all musical topics, classical and popular, primarily in the English language. Also included is a large collection of opera librettos.

Some supplementary subject areas include: 
Music and record business 
Recording and sound system equipment 
Ballads (only as related to sung ballads) 
Folklore (only titles with musical references) 
Popular culture

The Song Index

Currently the Song Index is unavailable.  If you have queries email us or inquire at the reference desk.

As a general rule, we do not collect individual song sheets. Most of our songs are in published songbooks. Unlike recordings, the contents of songbooks are not always listed in the library catalog. This makes searches for individual songs (title keyword search) in the catalog, at best, incomplete. To remedy this situation, we have a representative Reference Collection of popular songs (roughly 40,000 titles) accessible on selected PCs in the Music Reading Room. Patrons may search the Song Index by titles, first lines and source (Show, Film, Television). This index is kept current and is heavily used by the public. We also provide a large reference collection of musical comedy full piano-vocal scores and vocal selections.


Periodicals and their indexes are for reference use only. Our holdings can be found in the library catalog. We also have specialized music databases which are only available for use at the Library for the Performing Arts.

Wedding Music Collection

Over 100 compilations of wedding music are available for reference use. The contents are indexed in William D. Goodfellow's Wedding music: an index to collections.