Since its opening in 1965, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts has earned a reputation as one of the world's largest and most comprehensive collections of information on the performing arts. The Billy Rose Theatre Collection contains clippings, photos, playbills, videotapes and films from every phase of theatrical art and entertainment. The Dance Collection, the greatest concentration of dance memorabilia in the country, includes the Jerome Robbins Film Archive. The Music Division contains recordings, films and tapes, as well as books. The Rodgers & Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound encompasses more than 460,000 recordings and more than 8,500 printed items. Each collection consists mainly of exclusive material not found anywhere else.

    Through its constantly changing exhibitions, the library maintains a historical record of the performing arts in all forms. Previous exhibitions have included The House I Live In: American Performance in the Era of Blacklisting, Screams on Screen: 100 Years of Horror Film and Balanchine.

    Each year, the library presents more than 200 free concerts, play readings, lectures, film screenings and panel discussions. Noontime jazz performances are held every Tuesday from October-June. Music performances are held at 2:30 pm on weekends. Past events have included concerts focusing on the music of France, Norway, Mexico, and Asia, a seminar on the history of Spanish dancing in New York and a lecture on Isadora Duncan. Arthur Miller, John Guare and Susan Sontag are just a few of the writers who have made appearances in the library's popular Reading Room Readings series.