Exploring NYPL: The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

As we learned in our previous post, the New York Public Library is the largest public library system in the United States. The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is perhaps the most iconic branch, flanked by two marble sculptures of lions that have stood guard at their post since the opening in 1911. The library is also home to nine research divisions, each with a particular focus. Here are a few highlights:

The Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division. Photo credit: © New York Public Library.

The Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division is filled with hundreds of thousands of archival maps, atlases, and other cartographical data. Approximately 10,000 of the maps have been digitized, and made available online; the collection as a whole ranges from the 16th century to the present.

If you’re conducting biographical or familial research, the Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy is a hub for local, national, and international genealogical resources. The division’s blog posts are a good point of entry for learning more about the pathways that shape family histories, and related research pursuits.

The Dorot Jewish Division focuses on Jewish history and culture, and was established in 1897, two years after the library itself was founded. Their Research Guides offer suggestions for finding Yiddish Theater Manuscripts and Plays, books in Hebrew, Jewish cookbooks, and other items of cultural interest. 

The Pforzheimer Collection. Photo credit: © New York Public Library.

And for those with an eye towards 19th century literature, The Pforzheimer Collection centers around the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, and other luminaries of the period. It includes a selection of “political and scientific treatises, grammars, dictionaries, almanacs, and business directories” that give a rounded sense of Shelley’s cultural context.

Each of the divisions at the Schwarzman Building is rich with research potential – but if you’re not sure where to start, it’s always possible to consult with a librarian. The General Research Division  focuses on the humanities and social sciences, and serves as a gateway to NYPL’s collections as a whole. The contact information for each individual division is also available on this page; and, the Graduate Center Library has a research guide with some tips on how to best approach the collections. 

About the Author

Elvis Bakaitis is currently the Head of Reference at the Mina Rees Library. They're also proud to serve on the University LGBTQ Council, and as a board member of CLAGS: The Center for LGBTQ Studies.