New York Public Library - research advice #general


Roberta Sheps
 

I will be taking a rare trip to New York for a few days and would welcome
some advice on the use and holdings of the Public Library. Obviously I
don't want to waste time ferreting around in areas in which I am not
interested.

My interests are Lithuania in and around Vilnius, in Ukraine the Kiev area,
Odessa, Bereshovka (in Poltava Gubernia I think) and Dnipropetrovsk, and
border crossings between Maine, Vermont and New York, and Canada (Ontario,
Quebec and New Brunswick) between 1900 and 1905.

Thanks to all,

Roberta Sheps
Colchester, England


Stephen Katz
 

On 22 September 2013, Roberta Sheps asked for advice on the use of the New
York Public Library and its holdings.

Welcome to New York, Roberta. The New York Public Library is an exceptional
resource for material of genealogical interest. Its web site is at
www.nypl.org .

Make sure you go to the main library building (the Schwartzman Building) -
the famous beaux-arts building on Fifth Ave. at the corner of 42nd St., and
not the Mid-Manhattan Branch, which is nearby across Fifth Ave.

Since a library card is required for access to most of the library's
materials, I suggest that you obtain a temporary library card, which will be
good for the length of your stay, up to three months. You can apply on line
at http://catalog.nypl.org/screens/selfregpick.html .

I suspect that much of what would interest you is on the first floor of the
Library. I would suggest making the base of your operations the Milstein
Division of History and Genealogy, located on the first floor in room 121.
(A floor plan of the library is at
http://www.nypl.org/locations/tid/36/node/65885 .)

That room is full of tables and computers >from which you can access the
library's catalog and its online databases, which include a number of
genealogical databases and newspaper archives. You won't be able to access
the internet >from those computers, but the library has free wifi so bring
your laptop. Public internet computers are in the main reading room on the
third floor, but they must be reserved, which typically involves a wait.

In the Milstein Division there is a printer and a copier where you can print
materials that you find on line or in print. I think the cost is still 25
cents per page. Payment for the machines is with copy/print cards. There are
card dispensers in the Milstein Division and elsewhere in the library. They
take bills of various (smaller) denominations, but bring a quantity of dollar
bills to feed the hungry card dispenser. There is a machine in room 100, on
the opposite side of the building, that will change bills.

You mentioned US-Canada Border Crossing lists: Adjacent to the Milstein room
is the microforms room, room 119, which holds microfilms of various
passenger lists (I'm not sure whether it has US-Canada Border Crossings), US
census sheets, indexes of New York vital records, etc. Some of these
collections are shelved in room 119; others, such as US City Directories,
must be ordered in room 121 and will be delivered in short time to room 119
for viewing on one of its many microfilm readers.

Many of the materials of interest to you will be in the library's Dorot
Jewish Division, in room 111. The staff in the Dorot Division is exceptionally
helpful in locating materials >from its extensive collection of Judaica. Be
aware that coats, bags, etc., are not allowed in that room (but laptops are).
The only place to check these is downstairs on the ground floor, adjacent to
the 42nd St. side entrance. However, there is a room just outside the Dorot
Division with long reading tables. What I prefer to do, instead of checking
my stuff downstairs, is to leave them on a table at the back of that room
where they are visible >from the Dorot room. Although more convenient, this
is riskier, so keep an eye on your things >from the Dorot room.

Be aware, also, that, in the Dorot room, there is only one printer, which
usually works, and one microfilm reader, which is a bit dodgy at the best
of times. There are a couple of other printers and many other microfilm readers
in room 100; if you take any materials out of the Dorot room just make sure you
first check with the staff.

If you get peckish after hours of research, there are, at the Sixth Ave. side
of beautiful Bryant Park (which is just behind the library), kiosks that sell
sandwiches, coffee, etc. There's some sort of cafe near the library's first
floor main entrance, but it seems sort of basic and I've never used it.

As they say in New York, "enjoy!"

Stephen KATZ
New York City
Researching: KAPLAN (Stakliskes, Lithuania, and central Mass.); KABACHNIK
(Butrymonis, Lithuania); VITKIN (Kaunas, Lithuania, and Boston, Mass.);
GREENBERG/BLOCH, Vilna, Lithuania, and Boston, Mass.); KATZ (Novograd-Volynsk,
Ukraine and Boston, Mass.); TEPPER (Novograd-Volynsk and Rovno (Rivne), Ukraine).


Diane Jacobs
 

To search the reference library at 42nd St & Fifth Avenue, you don't Need a library
card or anything else. I have done work in Rooms 119 & 21 For over ten years
without any ID.

Diane Jacobs
Somerset, NJ

-----Original Message-----
From: Stephen Katz [mailto:katzsr@...]
Roberta Sheps asked for advice on the use of the New York Public Library and its
holdings...Since a library card is required for access to most of the library's
materials, I suggest that you obtain a temporary library card...


Stephen Katz
 

Diane Jacobs wrote:
"To search the reference library at 42nd St & Fifth Avenue, you don't Need a
library card or anything else. I have done work in Rooms 119 & 121 For over ten
years with any ID."

Diane is correct in pointing out that a library card is not needed to simply search
the catalog and databases on the library's internal computers, or to view films
stored in the drawers in room 119; I apologize if my previous post could be read as
indicating otherwise. However, a library card is needed to request books and
microfilms >from the stacks (including in the Dorot and Milstein Divisions) and to
do other things that a genealogical researcher would want to do at the NYPL. I
therefore think that it would be advisable for someone coming to the library >from
afar to take advantage of the opportunity to apply for a temporary card on line.

Stephen KATZ
NYC


A. E. Jordan
 

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

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
databases

-- 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 ....here 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


Erika Herzog
 

As someone who lives in New York I have found this thread truly amazing and very
helpful. I wonder if this great advice is compiled anywhere as a FAQ?

And as a fledgling librarian, I want to emphasize that it is really prudent and
important to contact the librarians ahead of time so that you can maximize your
research time at the library. Especially coming >from out of time specifically to do
research on these areas, I think that pre-visit contact will reduce a lot of
frustrations.

Great thread!

Erika Herzog, New York, NY * ID 100768 * erika_herzog@...