Reserve Film and Video Collection

Third Floor

Phone: (212) 870-1741
Fully accessible to wheelchairs


The Reserve Film and Video Collection includes more than 6,000 16mm films, 5,000 VHS videocassettes, and 2,000 DVDs.


The New York Public Library began acquiring films in 1952, and established a film department 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 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.


Individuals and non-profit organizations may borrow Reserve Film and Video Collection holdings for a period of seven days with a valid New York Public Library card; Reserve Film and Video Collection material cannot be renewed. All materials must be borrowed and returned at the Library for the Performing Arts circulation desk. Materials may be borrowed for private use only and may not be used for fundraising or other commercial purposes. Materials are not available for classroom use or school assemblies.


Individuals and groups may also view Reserve Film and Video Collection material on site by appointment. Appointments may be requested at the 2nd and 3rd floor Reference Desks, by emailing or by calling (212) 870-1741.


Please reach out in person, by phone, or email before completing the form for borrowing Reserve Film and Video Collection material. Access to the collection is available only through advance reservation. Reservations to view or borrow material must be made at least one week in advance and may be made in person, by phone, or email.