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Special Libraries in Focus: the Metropolitan Museum of Art


Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central park, New York, N.Y., Digital ID 836759, New York Public LibraryMetropolitan Museum of Art, Central park, New York, N.Y., Digital ID 836759, New York Public LibraryI know that the Met is one of the major art museums in New York City, so I was thrilled when a librarian from the Watson Library agreed to give staff from NYPL a tour of the Watson and Nolen libraries, which are open to the public, free of charge. The librarians provided us with tours of both the Watson and Nolen libraries, and staff were allowed to ask questions. The librarians who led our tour were very knowledgeable and friendly. The Met libraries are a great resource for anyone wishing to research art history.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10028

Watson Library

Hours (free and open to the public): Monday - Thursday 10 a.m. - 5:15 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Phone: 212-650-2225
Visitors: college-level members of the public
Policies: please check your bags
Collections: art history, including foreign languages, art periodicals, catalogs, etc.

Nolen Library

Hours (free and open to the public): Sunday - Saturday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Visitors: children, high school students and the general public
Policies: no need to check your bags
*Teacher Resource Center: circulating collection to customers who provide proof that they are teachers

Touring the Stacks

Our group went through the two floors of stacks of the Watson library on our way to the Nolen library. The Met (MMA) came up with their own cataloging system, but they also use the Library of Congress Classification System. One of the librarians showed us the book conservation laboratory, which was interesting. Our tour guides told us that researchers could request items to be sent to the Watson library from off site storage. In addition, customers can register to use the Watson library online or when they arrive to the library. People should enter through the 82nd Street entrance on Fifth Avenue and simply tell the staff in the Great Hall that they are here to visit the Watson or Nolen libraries, which they can then go visit. The Watson library has about 42 staff members, about half of which are librarians. They also have numerous interns working on various projects, such as barcoding. There are 27 curatorial libraries in the Metropolitan Museum of Art; all of their collections are included in the online catalog, WATSONLINE. The Watson Library also has a Facebook page.The Marquand Gallery Of Old Masters, Metropolitan Museum Of Art., Digital ID 805870, New York Public LibraryThe Marquand Gallery Of Old Masters, Metropolitan Museum Of Art., Digital ID 805870, New York Public Library

Children's Books in the Met Library

The Nolen library is lovely. It sports a children's collection in multiple languages. There are many computers for the kids to access art museum games. The Nolen library has story times at 10:30 a.m. for toddlers and 3 p.m. for school-age kids, which are very popular. Staff throughout the museum read to the kids. There is free wi-fi available in the Nolen and Watson libraries, and there are digital scanners in each, with the capability to scan documents to email accounts or flash drives. Computers are available for use that have access to the Internet and art databases. Printing from computers in the Met libraries is free of charge. Magnifying glasses are available to use to view library materials. The collection is art history, which pertains to any subject which may be associated with art, including botany, travel, etc. Most of the materials, with the exception of the Teacher Resource Center collection, must be used in the library.

Lesson Plans for Teachers

One of the gems of the Nolen Library is the Teacher Resource Center. Teachers can borrow packets and lesson plans if they provide proof of their employment. This is a separate room in the Nolen Library, and it serves K-12 teachers. Schools and teachers can also contact the Nolen library and request tours for their classes.

Visit the Watson Library to Research Art History

The Watson Library has a lovely reading room and current periodicals room. Older periodicals are bound. College-level visitors must check their bags upon entering the library. It is a very quiet area in which researchers have access to free wi-fi. Customers often ask for access to art gallery catalogs from around the world and museum catalogs (MMA and other museums). Materials are available in many languages, and reference librarians are always available to assist people with their research. The libraries also provide telephone and email reference assistance.


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