Re: New York Public Library - research advice #general

A. E. Jordan

From: Stephen Katz <katzsr@...>
Roberta Sheps asked for advice on the use of the New York Public Library and its

Since a library card is required for access to most of the library's materials, I
suggest that you obtain a temporary library card, ..... I would suggest making the
base of your operations the Milstein Division of History and Genealogy, located on
the first floor in room 121. ..Many of the materials of interest to you will be in
the library's Dorot Jewish Division, in room 111.

To clarify on the comments about needing a library card at the NY Public Library
you will need the card if you are going to access any research materials that needs
to be retrieved versus items that are on the open shelves or the database
computers. The comment that cam back about Room 121 and 119 not requiring a card
is mostly true but the Library is starting to make a card more and more necessary.
The microfilms of the census, passenger lists, death and birth index, voters
records, WWI draft cards, city directories for the most part do not require a card.
Same is true for some of the newspaper microfilms and phone books. But a lot of
items are being moved at the library and they are increasing asking for your card.
Best bet if you plan to do a lot of different research at the library go ahead and
file for the temporary card. Worst that happens is you end up not using it but if
you don't have one and need it the process will slow you down on site.

A few more resources that are available at the Library:
-- The Map Room (on the first floor down the fall >from the genealogy rooms) have
one of the finest map collections in the world. This includes things like AD/ED
maps for some of the Census records but they also have maps for a lot of the world.

-- Room 100 Microforms has an extensive collection of newspapers >from around the
USA and the world on microfilm .... here will definitely need a library card now
... but you can access a wealth of newspapers plus they also have an extensive
collection of historical phone books both for New York City and other places. Also
in Room 100 you will find more computers which access all the on line newspaper

-- Third floor reading room (Rose Room) you should go up there for no other reason
than see the wonders of a reading room that rivals the best in the world ... there
are more tables than you can count and lots of people working on all sorts of
things under a magnificent sky mural .... that's when we built libraries that we
temples of learning you can find directories like Who's Who book >from
around the world. Also here you will find some of the most knowledgeable
reference librarians in the building.

A few words of general advice. Check the on line index before you go especially if
you are looking for that certain book or treasure. (You can call or email
reference to ask questions in advance too.) A lot of things are stored off site
and it takes days to retrieve them. You can advance order off site items so that
they are waiting for you when you go but it takes days not hours for those items to
get to the reference room. Also you can advance reserve certain items and have
them advance pull microfilm that is stored in the building so it is on the shelves
waiting for you. (I just had to wait one hour last week to get a microfilm reel
and then some of the request came back in correct and had to be repeated while I
waited. So advance order when you can.)

Also make sure you take a USB stick with you if you plan to access the online
databases and maybe also a small digital camera. For the databases you can save
information for free... but if you print it you pay for each printed page. In most
rooms/areas the libraries will let you and encourage you to take digital pictures
of items (no flash of course) but some places the security guards will question the
use of a camera. Also in the main reading rooms anything you want to photocopy
has to be first inspected by a librarian to make sure it is strong enough to be
used on a copier.

Two other things to pack for a visit to the NYPL .... good walking shoes because
the rooms are far apart and you will do a lot of walking and your patience. Things
may move fast outside on the streets of Manhattan but things go slower in the
library. Some of the staff will be extremely helpful but they have a lot to do so
be patient. Also anything that is in the closed stacks is several floors away
likely under Bryant Park in the storage areas.

Also before you go check the website both for that day's hours as well as any
special events or closings. The main Fifth Avenue build gets used for special
events which some times force it to close on a day you might otherwise expect it to
be open.

Allan Jordan

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