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Rare Books Research at NYPL: Reading Room Policies

Rare Book Division and George Arents Collection

Researchers whose work requires use of Rare Book Division materials must register for access using our online form. Registration may be completed either in advance or in person.

Registering in Advance:

Readers—especially those living outside the New York City metropolitan area—are encouraged to register in advance, using our online form, so that the details of their visit may be confirmed by a Library staff member.

Registering in Person:

Readers may consult with a Library staff member and register in person during the Rare Book Division's public hours, Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Materials are paged for delivery daily. Requests made after 2:00 p.m. may not be available until the following morning.

If you have any questions, please write to us at rarebooks@nypl.org.

1. Readers requesting access to Rare Book Division & George Arents Collection materials must register using the online form. Registration may be completed either in advance or in person. 

2. Researchers must hold an NYPL Library Card, which can be obtained in the Library’s Main Reading Room, and must be able to present a valid government-issued photo ID to division staff.

3. All call slips must be legibly printed by hand upon arrival. Readers must indicate their full name as well as home street address on each call slip; P.O. box numbers or work addresses will not be accepted in lieu of a home street address.

4. Only pencils (ink may not be used for note taking) and laptop computers (without cases) may be brought into the reading room. Paper will be provided by the division for note taking, upon request. All other personal belongings, including coats, jackets, hats, purses, and bags, must be checked in the Library’s coatroom. Please plan your visit accordingly.

Readers may be asked to check in the Library’s coatroom any items deemed inappropriate by the Curator of the Rare Book Division or ranking assistant.

5. Books or other reading materials may not be brought into the reading room, except with the prior consent of the Curator or ranking assistant of the Rare Book Division.

6. Photography in the Brooke Russell Astor Reading Room is permitted, with the assistance of New York Public Library staff. Please consult with a Rare Book Division staff member if interested in obtaining photographic reproductions of items from the collection.

7. Listen carefully to staff instructions for the handling of Rare Book materials. In all cases, Rare Book Division staff will determine the manner in which materials are set up for viewing. Do not lean on or place anything on top of Library materials. Tracing or rubbing of materials is not permitted. Materials may not be transferred to another reader.

8. All items are subject to examination by Library staff upon entering and leaving the Reading Room.

Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature

Researchers are required to contact the Berg Collection to make an appointment for their research project in advance. For admission please contact staff using our web form or contact us directly by email at berg@nypl.org.  In your application, please describe your research topic, summarize your research to date, cite the items you wish to study, and explain why they are necessary for your project. Please allow up to two business days for a reply. The Berg Collection Reading Room is open to researchers Tuesday–Saturday (10:00 a.m.–5:45 p.m.). Material will not be paged after 5:00 p.m.

All items are paged on demand, using call slips that researchers generate upon arrival in the collection. There is no need to submit request lists in advance. However, requests for material from the following collections should be emailed to berg@nypl.org at least two business days before the date of your arrival: Jane Cooper, Bruce J. Friedman, Philip Levine, Annie Proulx, May Sarton, and Paul Auster. You may request up to 10 boxes for your initial research, and up to 10 boxes a day on subsequent visits as staffing permits.

Berg staff is available for reference consultation before or after your research visit by email and during your appointment.

When you arrive for your research visit at The New York Public Library, please check your coat or outerwear and all bags in the cloakroom on the Ground Floor near the 42nd Street entrance. It is advised that you wear a sweater to the reading room if you are sensitive to the cold. Necessary personal belongings, including mobile phones, wallets, and other small items of value can be brought to the Reading Room only in a clear plastic bag distributed at the cloakroom.

Please remember to schedule an appointment in advance of your initial visit, and bring your government issued photo ID and New York Public Library card so that we can complete your registration.

The door of the collection remains locked for security purposes; please ring the buzzer on the door’s left-hand side for access. 

Researchers are permitted to keep loose leaf paper, pencils, and laptops without cases on tables in the Berg Collection Reading Room. Please note that notebooks, bound items, folders or other personal items on these tables are not permitted. These items should be kept in your clear Researcher Bag, which Berg staff will store away from the tables. Food, drink, or chewing gum are not allowed in the reading room, and all outerwear, backpacks, and purses must be checked in the cloakroom prior to arrival.

Berg staff may provide pencils and loose leaf paper for your use, as well as electric outlets and extension cords.

Berg staff may restrict access to certain items based on their condition, donor restrictions, or staffing considerations. For questions regarding access, please discuss with Berg staff in advance of your visit.

As a courtesy to those unable to visit the Berg Collection in person, a limited number of research copies can be requested for a small fee. In order to initiate a reprographic order, please contact a staff member at berg@nypl.org.

A researcher may request the following services annually:

    Up to 100 photocopies, at a rate of $10/first ten pages, and $0.50/page thereafter, $3 domestic/$5 foreign postage
    Up to 50 digital scans, at a rate of $2/scan.
    Up to 25 digital photographs, at a rate of $2/image.

Only unbound items may be photocopied or scanned; bound items must be photographed. Berg staff reserves the right to decline reprographic requests based on the condition of the materials, donor restrictions, or staffing considerations.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture: Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division

Registration is required for consultation of materials in the Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, which will take place at the time of the first visit:

  • Applicant shall be required to show valid identification (e.g., driver's license, student or employee identification, passport).
  • Applicant must fill out a written registration form and provide name and address, institutional affiliation, and nature of project.

Final determination regarding access to materials is the responsibility of the staff of the individual special collection, in consultation with the researcher, and the rules of the division.

Reading Room requires that coats, briefcases, parcels, packages, bags, and umbrellas be checked in the first-floor Check Room. Materials needed to conduct research may be brought to the division. Lockers are provided to secure personal materials once collection materials are requested.