How to Find Periodicals
A guide to the approximately 15,000 periodical subscriptions at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.
Introduction to the Collections
The periodical collections of the Humanities and Social Sciences Library are one of its greatest strengths, and attract scholars from a wide range of disciplines from around the world. Periodicals, also referred to as journals, magazines or serials, are found in a variety of locations throughout the Library, depending on the date, subject, and language of the publication. CATNYP, the Library’s online catalog, will tell you where you can find the journal you need.
Alongside mainstream journals, the collection includes many unique and unusual items not found in other Libraries. The range includes ethnic weekly newspapers, zines, publications from the alternative press, American literary magazines ("little magazines"), collectibles, city magazines, learned society and museum publications, illustrated magazines, sports & games, and hobbies.
Some of the interesting and obscure titles you will find in our collections include:
- Potato Chipper, published by the National Potato Chip Institute
- Skanky Possum, a contemporary poetry journal published in Austin, TX
- Nyu Yorker Vokhnblat, a Yiddish literary journal published in New York from 1935-1960.
The collection is both an historical one, as well as an active, contemporary one, with publications ranging from Benjamin Franklin’s General Magazine, the first U.S. magazine, started in 1741, to the latest issue of Cosmopolitan.
Using the Library’s Catalogs
CATNYP is the online catalog of The New York Public Library's four Research Libraries. It is easily accessible via the World Wide Web at http://catnyp.nypl.org. For general instructions on using CATNYP, please consult Using the Library's Online Catalog.
You can locate journals in CATNYP by either searching for a specific title, or by browsing a specific subject area.
If you are looking for a particular magazine, journal or newspaper, a Journal Title search will be the quickest method. Please note that a Journal Title search includes newspapers, magazines, and journals, all in a single search.
- Go to the main search screen for CATNYP at http://catnyp.nypl.org
- Click on the Journal Title search option
- Type in the title you are seeking (you do not need to use punctuation or capital letters; you can just enter the first few letters of the title if you prefer)
- Click on Search
- Select the record that you want from the list retrieved
If you want to browse a list of journals in a particular subject area, there are 2 methods that will work: a subject search, and a word search.
If you know the subject heading you wish to browse, you can perform a subject search. Remember that subject headings in CATNYP use controlled vocabulary terms set by the Library of Congress. For help in finding LC subject Headings, refer to the Using the Library’s Online Catalog Research Guide.
- Go to the main search screen for CATNYP at http://catnyp.nypl.org
- Click on the Subject search option
- Type in the subject you are seeking followed by the word Periodicals
- Click on Search
- Choose the subject heading from the list that is retrieved
- You can then scroll through an alphabetical listing of all periodical titles in that subject area
- Art Periodical
- American Literature Periodicals
- United States History Periodicals
- Russian Periodicals
You can also retrieve a list of periodicals using the Word search features in CATNYP. Word searches allow you to use any words you wish. This is especially helpful if you are not certain of the appropriate subject heading to use in your search.
- Go to the main search screen for CATNYP at http://catnyp.nypl.org
- Click on the Words search option
- Type in the term(s) to describe your topic
- If the words you entered can appear in any order, you need to type the word and in between each term (if you omit the word and CATNYP will only retrieve records which contain the exact phrase you entered)
- Under the Publication Type box, choose Periodical
- Click on Submit Search
- Because word searches usually produce more results, please note that they may take longer than other searches
- civil war (limited to periodicals)
- literature and italian (limited to periodicals)
- culinary (limited to periodicals)
After you have done a word search, and have found relevant periodicals in the collections, you may want to scan the online record in CATNYP to see what subject heading is used for that particular title. You can then do a subject search to find other relevant titles.
For example, the word search mentioned above using the term culinary retrieves 17 records. Looking at one of the titles found, you will note a subject heading cookery periodicals. You can click on that subject heading to retrieve 69 periodicals related to that topic.
Although most periodicals and journals are now in CATNYP, there are still some older titles, as well as some non-English titles, that may not be. In particular, titles that ceased publication prior to 1972 may not be listed in CATNYP. If visiting the Library, you may wish to search the Dictionary Catalog for these titles. Located in Room 315, the Dictionary Catalog contains records of items acquired by the Research Libraries prior to 1972. It can be searched by both title and subject.
If you are unable to locate the information you need, please ask one of our librarians for assistance. If you are not in the library, you may also use our online reference services, available at http://www.nypl.org/research/chss/.
Reading a CATNYP Record
Once you have found the item you need in CATNYP, there are several things you will want to look for. Refer to the record below for help in interpreting the record.
Electronic Journal: Online Access is available from 1967 to 3 years ago, if you are on a computer in the library.
Current in Room 108: The library has the journal in print from 1967 to the present (the open-ended dash after 1996 means that we are still receiving this journal).
Latest Received: The most recent issue we have for this journal is Winter 2002, found in Room 108.
Location: The location fields tell me that there is an online copy available via the Internet, and that other issues listed are available in the General Research Division
Locating Your Periodical in the Library
Periodicals are found throughout the Library, in almost every Division. CATNYP will tell you in which location you can find the title you are seeking, so be certain to take note of the Location Field when searching. Please note that a single periodical title might be housed in multiple locations, depending on the format. For instance, a single title may have current paper issues in Room 108, back issues on microfilm in Room 100, and bound volumes in Room 315!
DeWitt Wallace Periodical Room (Room 108)
Current issues of approximately 11,000 periodicals in the humanities, social science, and general interest subject areas are found here. Materials here are primarily in the Roman alphabet, and include publications from the United States, the United Kingdom, Latin America, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia.
You will generally find the last 2-3 years of a title here in Room 108. Older titles will be available either on microfilm (Room 100) or as bound volumes (Room 315). A variety of popular titles, including 3 daily newspapers, The New York Times (for 6 weeks), Washington Post (3 months), and Wall Street Journal (3 months) are also available in Room 108.
To use materials in the DeWitt Wallace Periodical Room, simply fill out a call slip with the title and issue that you need to use. You may submit the call slip at the front reference desk.
Microforms (Room 100)
Many older issues of newspapers and journals can be found on microfilm or microfiche. It can usually be found in the Microforms Division, Room 100, located on the first floor.
CATNYP will indicate if the title is on microform, and which dates are available in this format. You can also tell that a title is in microform by looking at the call number. It will always begin with a *Z or a *R-*Z.
Frequently used microfilm titles are available in a self-service area, stored in drawers on the left, as you enter Room 100. These titles are indicated in CATNYP with the call number *R-*Z. You may retrieve these items yourself, although we ask that you do not return them to the drawers. We will put them away for you when you are finished with your work.
All other microforms must be requested at the desk, by completing a call slip. You will need the Call Number, and the title and date or volume of the journal you wish to use.
General Research Division (Room 315)
When the older issues of a periodical held in the DeWitt Wallace Periodical Room have been bound, they are shelved in the general stacks and must be requested through the General Research Division, Room 315. Submit a call slip for each title that you wish to have retrieved.
Periodicals relating to local histories, and genealogy are generally found in the Milstein Division, Room 121. Current and bound issues may be requested here at the reference desk by completing a call slip for each title needed.
Please note that current periodicals (the last 2-3 years) for US History will be found in Room 108. Older bound issues are in Room 121, and may be requested at the reference desk. Refer to the CATNYP record for more specific information.
Asian and Middle Eastern Division (Room 219)
The Asian and Middle Eastern Division houses over 1450 periodicals and newspapers from around the world, in a range of languages that includes Chinese, Japanese, Korean, eleven Indian languages, Arabic, Persian, Armenian, Georgian, Tibetan, several languages of Central Asia, and the major languages of the ancient Near East. The Division's subject areas include linguistics, literature, religion, archaeology, and history.
Dorot Jewish Division (Room 84)
The Dorot Jewish Division holds over 1200 periodical and newspaper titles of Jewish interest. The titles held go back as far as the 17th century, although the strength of the collection is in its late 19th and 20th century holdings.
Current issues, bound issues, and microfilm of these titles can be retrieved from the reference desk in Room 84. For more information, or to browse a list of titles found in the Jewish Division, visit their web site at http://www.nypl.org/humanities/jewish
Slavic and Baltic Division (Room 216-217)
The Slavic and Baltic Division is the locus for the Library's largest concentration of Slavic and Baltic vernacular language collections, with more than 1200 current serials, and 21,800 microform titles. Here, you will find titles published in Russian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Ukrainian, Latvian, and many other languages. Note that western-language newspapers and periodicals relating to Eastern Europe and the countries of the former Soviet Union will be found in either the DeWitt Wallace Periodical Room (Room 108) or the General Research Division (Room 315).
All materials housed in the Slavic and Baltic Division may be requested at the reference desk in Rooms 216-217.
There are many periodical titles held in our Special Collections. Items held in these divisions can be identified by checking the location field in CATNYP.
Items in Special Collections require a special card of admission. For more information on gaining access to these titles, please visit the Special Collections Access web site at http://www.nypl.org/research/chss/admin/admission.html
One such collection of periodicals is the International Gay Information Center Archives, held in the Manuscripts and Archives Division. In this collection are approximately 2000 separate periodical titles (tens of thousands of pieces), comprising over 150 linear feet of holdings, 1953-1989. Includes publications from forty-seven states (all except Idaho, South Carolina and West Virginia) and twenty-seven countries (including Argentina, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, and South Africa). Most of these titles are not yet in CATNYP. To learn more about this collection, or to browse a list of periodical titles, visit their web site at http://www.nypl.org/research/chss/spe/rbk/igic.html
The location field in CATNYP may list “Offsite” as a location on some periodicals. These are items that have been moved to our remote storage facility, and are thus not in the building. You may request these materials in one of two ways:
- If you need a specific article from a journal (up to 50 pages), and if you have an e-mail address, you may provide us with the citation of the article. Our staff at the remote storage facility will retrieve the journal, scan your article, and e-mail you a link to connect to that item online. You may then read the article online, print it out, or save it to your computer at home.
- If you are not certain of the citation for the article, or if you need to see an entire journal issue, you may request that the journal be delivered to the Library. An item will be delivered the next day (Tuesday - Friday) if the request is placed before 1:30 p.m. Items requested after 1:30 p.m. will arrive two days later. Items requested after 1:30 p.m. on Thursday will be available the following Tuesday.
Requests for periodicals located offsite may be made in person using our regular call slip, if you are in the Library, or may be made via e-mail or phone from home. Please make certain you have the complete citation, including the call number, and contact us at (212)930-0830, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please call before coming in to make certain your material has arrived, (212)930-0813.
Other Research Libraries
In addition to the Humanities and Social Sciences Library, periodicals may be found at the three other Research Libraries of the New York Public Library. Be sure to check CATNYP for the appropriate location.
- Science & business journals are at the Science Industry & Business Library, located at 34th Street & Madison Avenue
- Dance, theater, music and recorded sound journals are at the Library for the Performing Arts, located in Lincoln Center
- Journals containing information by and about people of African descent throughout the world, concentrating on the humanities, social sciences, and the arts, are at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture located in Harlem at 135th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard
From Citation to Article
In order to find a specific article, you generally first need a citation. Citations can be discovered or verified by using a database or index. There are many available in both electronic and print formats throughout the Library.
Which index or database you use depends on the topic of your research. For electronic resources, the Selected Electronic Resources menu, available on computer workstations throughout the Humanities and Social Sciences Library, offers a subject guide to the indexes & databases available. Choosing the subject closest to your topic will reveal databases relevant to your field. If you are accessing the Library’s web site from home, you can review the list of databases and indexes online. However, please note that you can only access the databases themselves from within the building.
Once you have the citation for the article you desire, go to CATNYP (http://catnyp.nypl.org) and search to see if the item is in the Library’s collections. Remember to check three key points:
- Does the Library have the title?
- Does the Library have the date or specific issue you need?
- What is the location for the specific issue you need?
You will need to fill out a call slip in order to request the journal. Make sure you have the complete citation, including the call number, the full title of the journal, date, volume, and issue number. While you will not need the author and title of the article to request the journal, you will want to copy it for your research.
Submit the call slip in the appropriate Division to have the item retrieved for you.
Using Online Journals
Hundreds of online journals are available for Library patrons. You can use these full-text journals directly from the computers in the Library, and gain instant access to the article you are seeking!
On the Selected Electronic Resources page you will find a link to an alphabetical list of Full Text Journals Available Through Databases. Jump to the letter that your title would be under to see if the Library has online access to the title and date you are seeking. If it is listed, you can click on the link to go directly to that journal to view your article on screen. You can then read the article online, print it out, or save or e-mail the article, depending on the database providing access.
How to make copies of articles
Self-service photocopy machines are available in the following locations in the Humanities and Social Sciences Library:
- Rose Main Reading Room, Room 315, North Hall
- DeWitt Wallace Periodicals Room, Room 108
- Milstein Divisionof US History, Local History & Genealogy, Room 121
- Dorot Jewish Division, Room 84
If there is no photocopier in the division in which your periodical is held, please consult the reference librarian for assistance.
Generally, most periodical articles can be photocopied. However, because many of the items in the collections are fragile, some items may not be allowed for self-service copying. For these items, our copy services division can make your copies for you. Please ask one of our reference librarians for assistance with this.
Journal articles on microfilm may be printed using a microfilm reader with an attached printer. Electronic journal articles may be printed directly from the computer.
Self-service photocopy machines and microfilm printers take either a copy card or coins. Purchase a copy card or add value to a card at one of the card dispensers located in the Rose Main Reading Room (North Hall and South Hall), the DeWitt Wallace Periodicals Room, the Microforms Division, and the Milstein Division of US History, Local History and Genealogy. Printing articles from computers in the library can only be done with a copy card.
Copies made with a copy card cost .15¢; copies made with coins cost .20¢. Fragile items copied through our copy services division cost .25¢.
If you are unable to visit the library, NYPL Express can photocopy articles and deliver them to you for a fee. Visit them online at http://www.nypl.org/express/
Periodicals available at other Libraries
If an article is needed from a periodical not owned by the Humanities and Social Sciences Library, there are a several options for obtaining it.
- Check to see if the Journal is available online
- Check LEO, the catalog of the Branch Libraries of The New York Public Library
- Check WorldCat to see what other libraries have the journal
- If the title is available at a library in New York City (NYU, Columbia or CUNY for example) a visit to those libraries may be arranged with the use of a Metro card.
- If the title is available at a library outside of New York City, you can request a copy of a specific article through Interlibrary Loan. Please note that there is often a small cost for Interlibrary Loan materials.
For more information concerning these kinds of requests, consult a Librarian at the Reference Desk in Room 315.