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Plan Your Research Visit

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Plan Your Research Visit

Five Time-Saving Things You Can Do Before You Arrive at Schwarzman, LPA, Schomburg, or SIBL

1. Apply for a library card.

If you aren't already a New York Public Library cardholder, apply online for a library card. Even visitors from outside New York can obtain a library card that offers temporary 3-months access to our collections. When you apply for a card online, you will receive a 7-digit temporary barcode. This allows you to set a PIN, place lending items on hold or submit requests for research items from offsite storage. You’ll need to complete your library card registration when you arrive and before consulting our materials (see further details below in the “Once You Arrive” section). Be sure to bring proof of identity in order to obtain your library card!

2. Search the collections.

Search for research items using the Classic Catalog. You can search by title, subject, keyword, etc. Note the location in the catalog record. The catalog includes collections held at all New York Public Library locations, so materials will show the Research Center name followed by the name of a particular division. You can limit your search to a particular Research Center by using the Collection pull-down menu; Research libraries are listed at the end of the list. 

If you are searching for non-book materials, you may also consult the following catalogs:

Please note that certain materials are not reflected in our catalogs. For further assistance locating materials, proceed to number 3 below.

3. Consult with a curator or librarian.

Most divisions welcome walk-in researchers, but some special collections require additional registration prior to your visit. Please contact the division and make arrangements in advance if required.

  • Email or call specific divisions if you have questions prior to your visit or would like to schedule a research consultation with a librarian.
  • Call, text, email, or chat with the Ask NYPL service for general questions.

4. Request research library materials.

Items from the New York Public Library’s research collections may be requested in advance to help researchers make the most of their time on-site.

Please note: As the Library relocates research materials into the newly-completed Milstein Research Stacks under Bryant Park, some items may be temporarily unavailable for use.

Approximately 90% of research requests are delivered on the day they are requested.  Some of our materials are stored off-site and will be delivered on the following business day, provided the request is made before 2:30 p.m. on a business day.

Offsite deliveries have been expanded to Monday through Saturday. During the week, items will usually be delivered the next business day if the request is placed before 2:30 p.m. Items requested after 2:30 p.m. will be delivered on the second business day. Items requested after 2:30 p.m. on Fridays or over the weekend will be delivered the following Tuesday.

Researchers are invited to place requests up to a week in advance of their visit, as items will be held for seven days once the request is filled.

5. Review regulations.

Please familiarize yourself with the General Regulations of the research centers before your visit. All visitors are expected to comply with the General Regulations.

Once You Arrive

1. If you are an individual with a disability and need assistance, the Library’s staff is available to help.

The Library takes an active approach to providing access to its resources and services. Visit the Access for Persons with Disabilities page for more information.

2. Check any items not allowed in reading rooms.

A supervised, no-fee checkroom is provided at each research center. To improve the study environment for all, some personal items must be checked prior to conducting research. Visit the Checkroom Services page for additional details.

3. Coordinate with staff on items you wish to copy or scan.

To preserve the physical condition of research collection materials, Library staff must evaluate whether an item’s condition will allow for copying or scanning. Some material may only be copied or scanned by Library staff and some may not be copied or scanned. Go to the Copying, Printing, and Scanning Services page for more information. See the Copying, Printing, and Scanning Prices page for self-service and staff-assisted pricing.