Guide to the Research Collections



Following its consolidation as the New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations in 1895, the library was organized into two major components, now called the Branch Libraries and the Research Libraries. The Branch Libraries have responsibility for providing materials for general reference and home use, while the Research Libraries are concerned with collecting, preserving, and providing access to materials of value for advanced reference work and research. Although mention of materials in the Branch Libraries will be made from time to time in this Guide, the focus of the discussion is on the collections of the Research Libraries. Unless noted otherwise, the phrase "the library" used in descriptions of holdings in this volume applies to the Research Libraries.

The methods used in preparing and arranging this guide to resources are explained in Jackson's Introduction (especially pp. xxiv-xxvi). Current figures and references to specific subjects and titles indicate the range and relative strengths of the library's collections in the late 1960s. For complete and up-to-date information on the holdings, consult the Public Catalog in Room 315 of the library's Central Building and the published Dictionary Catalog of The Research Libraries for new acquisitions since 1971 (see the first Appendix for a detailed listing of the Research Libraries' published catalogs).

In this Guide subjects are covered for which the library has notable collections; the catalogs will of course locate materials in many subjects not mentioned here. Unless there is a specific division reference given, titles cited are from the general collections, and can be located through the Public Catalog or Dictionary Catalog and requested in Room 315.

Locations of administrative units of the library are given in the Location Chart on page 304, not in the text. The first letters of the titles of administrative divisions are capitalized (Music Division; Berg Collection). For collections forming part of the holdings of a division, lower case is used (for example, the Drexel collection, Music Division). For these, the administrative division is mentioned in the text.


For the convenience of the reader, certain terms and abbreviations used by the library and referred to in this volume are defined in the following list. Some terms used to indicate the relative strengths of particular collections are self-evident; however, "comprehensive," "exhaustive," "representative," and "selective" are used precisely to denote the library's acquisition policy: the definitions of these terms are included herein.

 analytics, analyze-- A cataloging term which indicates full cataloging under author and subject for monographs in series. See "indexing" below.

 BNYPL-- Bulletin of The New York Public Library.

 Billings Classification Schedule(s)-- The arrangement of works in the Research Libraries devised by John Shaw Billings, the first director of the library. It is basically a subject arrangement, with special "star" classes for special divisions and types of materials. See Classification Schedules for Printed, Microcopy and Phonorecord Materials in the Reference Department [now called the Research Libraries] (The New York Public Library, 1955) and "Locations of Classes of Books" charts and pamphlets in each division. See "fixed order" below.

 class-- One of the main categories of classification or the works therein.

 class mark-- The series of letters, etc., denoting the classification of a work. It corresponds to "Call Number," etc. in other libraries.

 Collection-- An administrative unit of the Research Libraries (equivalent to Division) or the Branch Libraries (see Location Chart on p. 304).

 collection-- A group of materials identified by the name of a donor, collector, or subject, which is not an administrative unit of the library. These collections are listed in the Index; the name of the division or Collection administering them is noted in the text if they are not part of the general collections (see below).

 comprehensive-- At least 75 percent of what is obtainable.

 Division-- An administrative unit of the Research Libraries (see Location Chart on p. 304).

 exhaustive-- Everything obtainable.

 Farmington Plan-- A voluntary agreement under which major American research libraries have accepted responsibility for collecting in special fields.

 fixed order-- A system of shelving books by size rather than subject. Fixed order was instituted in 1956 for some materials entering the library's general collections and extended to other collections in later years.

 general collections-- The book collections housed in the stacks, titles from which may be requested in Room 315 of Central Building. Comprising more than one-half of the total number of books in the Research Libraries, these general collections cover such fields as bibliography, biography, European history, geography, literature, linguistics, the natural sciences, philology, philosophy, psychology, and religion. Also used to describe materials not in the Special Collections of rare books, manuscripts, and prints.

 indexing-- A cataloging term which indicates that an article in a periodical has been entered in the catalog under subject or author (or both). See "analytics" above.

Lydenberg, History-- Harry Miller Lydenberg, History of The New York Public Library (The New York Public Library, 1923).

 n.c.-- Not cataloged. Part of a class mark formerly given to volumes of pamphlets, brochures, etc. which were considered worth preserving but not given separate cataloging.

 PBSA-- Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America.

 PL 480-- Public Law 480, the Agricultural Trade and Development and Assistance Act of 1954, as amended; a program which has provided funds used to purchase foreign currencies to finance acquisition and distribution of books and booklike materials for participating libraries, one of which is the New York Public Library.

 p.v.-- Pamphlet volume. Part of a class mark used for volumes of pamphlets. Each pamphlet is fully cataloged.

 oversize (+, + +)--The symbols are part of the class mark for oversize books, which are usually shelved apart from smaller volumes in the class, but are requested in the normal manner.

 representative-- From 50 to 75 percent of what is obtainable.

Research Center--A major administrative subdivision of the Research Libraries (see Location Chart on p. 304).

 selective-- Any amount up to 50 percent of what is obtainable.

Special Collections--A major administrative subdivision (equivalent to Research Center) of the Research Libraries (see Location Chart on p. 304).

 stacks-- The main shelves of books in the Central Building, primarily the general collections.

 star (*)--The symbol is part of the class mark for the "star" classes of the Billings Classification Schedules, which are composed of special forms of materials (e.g., *L for phonograph records) or collections of materials requiring special care (e.g., *K for rare books) or other collections of special materials.