Archives Books Databases event @ The New York Public Library

February 28, 2013 | Filed Under Uncategorized | Comments Off on Archives Books Databases event @ The New York Public Library 

Did you know that when the Graduate Center opened in 1961 on 42nd street (fun fact – the building is now home to the SUNY College of Optometry), its accreditation was based in part on its proximity to the research facilities of the New York Public Library?

The resources of the NYPL remain vital to grad students at the GC. This week, I went to a one-hour instructional course for GC students at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (the one with the lions), aimed at graduate research and focused on resources not otherwise available at the Grad Center’s Mina Rees Library.

I’m at the NYPL a lot, since my dissertation research draws upon the library’s significant LGBT collections, including the ACT UP New York records and the archives of the activist public art collectives Gran Fury and fierce pussy.

But even I didn’t realize how many research resources – primarily fulltext databases – there are at the NYPL that are NOT available through the Mina Rees Library. They include: America’s Historical Imprints; Eighteenth-Century Collections Online (ECCO); Proquest Historical Databases; America’s Historical Newspapers; World Newspaper Archive; Guardian and The Observer (1791-2003); 19th Century British Library Newspapers; British Newspapers 1600-1900; American Periodical Series; Periodicals Archive Online (1915-Present); Harpweek (Harper’s); Proquest Historical Database; Newspaper Source; Custom Newspapers; Proquest Research Library.

As you can glean from this list, many of these databases pertain to ephemera. This is an incredible moment for scholars who study newspapers, since previously inaccessible historical materials are constantly being digitized!.

If you want to access these databases, you’ll need to do so from the NYPL (not remotely). It’s a good idea to bring your own laptop, since the computers available at the library aren’t up to the task.

During the upheaval of the Central Library Plan project (which aims to create a new circulating library within the flagship 42nd Street location by 2018) many books are now stored off-site. However, it’s commendable that off-site requests are typically delivered within 24 hours. AND – you can request up to 50 pages of an off-site periodical or book, and library staff will scan and send it to you as a PDF.

You need a library card and a PIN number to take advantage of these resources. It’s easy enough to get one, just head to the 3rd floor of the Schwarzman building. With a library card and an application, you can also get involved in the new Manhattan Research Library Initiative (MaRLI), which allows for 120-day, non-renewable loans of select library materials at NYPL (as well as NYU and Columbia University).

I’m very happy I went to this course. If you’re interested in learning more about locating items across the NYPL’s special collections, figuring out how to begin more specific research in the archives, and learning how to navigate the NYPL’s research centers, I’d recommend attending the next one (a repeat of the first), on March 27. You can RSVP to Brooke Watkins (, Librarian & Selector for German Collections Strategy at the NYPL. She ran this program with Thomas Lannon, Assistant Curator in the Manuscripts and Archives Division of the NYPL. Thanks to Amy Ballmer, Reference Librarian at Mina Rees Library, for promoting this course to GC Art History students!

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