The New York Public Library comprises four scholarly research collections and a network of 83 community libraries in Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island. The research libraries are the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (formerly the Humanities and Social Sciences Library), on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street; the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, at Lincoln Center; the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, in Harlem; and the Science, Industry and Business Library, on Madison Avenue and 34th Street.
The New York Public Library is a privately managed, nonprofit corporation with a public mission, operating with both private and public financing in a century-old, still evolving private-public partnership. The research collections resemble the holdings of the great national and university libraries, and the community circulating libraries (organized as the Branch Libraries) resemble classic American municipal libraries.
The New York Public Library is visited and used annually by more than 15 million people. There are 1.86 million cardholders. The Beaux-Arts style building on Fifth Avenue usually springs to mind at any mention of the New York Public Library. Designed by Carrère & Hastings and completed in 1911 at a cost of $9 million, it is one of the city's finest public structures. It is hard to imagine research being conducted under more elegant conditions.
The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is home to all library collections touching on history, languages and literature, art, popular culture, philosophy, religion, psychology, anthropology, theology, geography and politics. Special collection strengths here lie in the areas of American history; the book arts; children's literature; British and American literary culture; family history; Judaica; maps and cartography; publishing and bookselling; rare Slavica; and Asian-American, gay and lesbian, Hispanic and Latin American, Middle Eastern, Native American and women's studies. The Children's Center at this research library is a circulating library that reopened in November 2008.
Among the library's extraordinary holdings are a Gutenberg Bible; ancient Torah scrolls; the first five folios of Shakespeare's plays; paintings by Rembrandt Peale; Edisonian cylindrical recordings; George Washington's Farewell Address to his troops; prints by the Japanese master Hokusai; political cartoons by British satirist William Hogarth; and an early draft of the U.S. Constitution in Alexander Hamilton's hand. The center mounts exhibitions in four fine galleries. Also on offer are lectures and readings by top writers, critics and historians, politicians, fashion designers, filmmakers and media figures.
Ongoing events for children and adults are held at most branch libraries.
The New York Public Library offers a wide variety of programs for children, their families and other groups. Copies of "Events for Adults/Young Adults" and "Events for Children," published monthly, are available at every branch.
November 2008 marked the return of a circulating children’s library to the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue. The Children’s Center at 42nd Street (in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building) continues NYPL's tradition as a national leader in children's services. The collection offers a wealth of circulating materials for children of all ages, and for adults with an interest in children’s literature, music and media. The collection, services, and facilities include musical CDs, books on CD, video games, and DVDs, and eight PC stations with internet access, available by appointment and reserved for use by children twelve and under.
From intimate readings to large-scale events, programming includes storytelling, musical and theatrical performances, spoken word performances and guest appearances by authors and illustrators.
Class and group tours, special assistance with assignments, and visits for other purposes at the Children's Center at the Fifth Avenue branch can be arranged.
The Connecting Libraries and Schools Project (CLASP) of the New York Public Library educates students, teachers and parents about the resources of the library. CLASP serves six school districts:in Manhattan, Districts 1, 5 and 6; in Staten Island, District 31; and in the Bronx, Districts 8 and 10. Teachers may also bring classes to the library by appointment. During the class visit, children are told about the resources of the library and shown how to obtain a library card.