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Reserve Film and Video Collection


Second Floor

Phone: (212) 870-1741

Fully accessible to wheelchairs

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The Reserve Film and Video Collection includes more than 6,000 16mm films, 5,000 VHS videocassettes, and 1,200 DVDs.

The New York Public Library began acquiring films in 1953, and established a film collection at the Donnell Library in 1958. The library began adding videos to the collection in the 1970s.

Since the collection's inception, its primary focus has been independently produced works. Careful selection practices have resulted in a collection that is impressive for its scope and depth and its overall high quality. The collection's holdings provide a very broad spectrum of both subject matter and filmmaking styles and genres. It is unique among American public libraries, and is comparable to archives held within major American museums and universities.

Particular strengths of the collection are its political, social, and cultural documentaries; experimental films; video art; animation; short fictional works; and films and videos created by and for children and young adults.

The Reserve Film and Video Collection also offers an impressive array of over 800 feature films in all formats, including works from the silent era; independently produced features; a broad representation of world cinema; and Hollywood productions from American classics to recent releases.


The Circulating Performing Arts Collection's and the Billy Rose Theatre Division's specialized circulating and reference book collections support the study, critical analysis, and enjoyment of the cinematic arts.

The book collections focus on the historical development and progression of both film and video; film/video direction and production; screenplays; film/video genres; national cinemas; biographies; and indexes to film literature. All reference books are non-circulating, and must be consulted on site.

Periodicals and Newsletters

Periodicals and their indexes are for reference use only. Our holdings can be found in the Library Catalog. In addition, there are newsletters related to the subject of independent film and video. All magazines are non-circulating, and must be consulted on site. We also offer specialized databases, which are only available for use at the Library for the Performing Arts.

Abecedarium: NYC

This interactive online exhibition reflects on the history, geography, and culture—both above and below ground—of New York City through 26 unusual words. Using original video, animation, photography, and sound, Abecedarium: NYC constructs visual relationships between these select words and specific locations in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. Learn more.