Guide to the Research Collections
Of the specialized areas within librarianship, holdings are most extensive for that of classification. They embrace not only theoretical and practical works, but also include a good collection of general classification schemes, both those abandoned and those still in use. More than 400 schemes for individual subjects (e.g., agriculture, business, Japanese literature, motion pictures, nursing) are also available. The collection of materials on reference books and reference work is also strong, although less extensive than that on classification. Nearly all guides to and bibliographies of reference materials are present.
For two subareas the library's collecting policy approaches exhaustiveness. A small group of monographic and serial literature, which includes publications in a wide range of languages, covers the preservation of library materials. Information storage and retrieval systems are covered by the standard journal and monographic works, a sizable number of conference proceedings, and reports emanating from research centers and consulting firms in the information science field.
The area of librarianship education is not strong. While all important monographic studies (e.g., those by Danton, Munn, Reece, Vann, and Williamson) and the serial publications of the Association of American Library Schools are present, holdings of the course announcements, reports, and alumni bulletins of the individual accredited library schools are weak; there has been no attempt to maintain files of such items. An exception is the library's own Library School, which operated from 1911 to 1926. The book collection contains the announcements, reports of the principal, programs of commencement exercises, registers of students, and miscellaneous items; archival materials have been transferred to Columbia University. There is a basic information collection on education for librarianship in other countries.
Resources on the New York Public Library and those institutions which it absorbed are, or course, unique. Published material includes not only the 46 reports (1849-94) of the Astor Library and the 25 (1870-94) of the Lenox, but also those of the Aguilar, Harlem, New York Free Circulating and Washington Heights Free Libraries from their founding until their consolidation with the New York Public Library. A set of the library's own general and financial reports, the Bulletin,
and other publications, is maintained as a unit in the classified collection (other parts of the collection frequently contain additional copies of individual items). The Manuscripts and Archives Division administers archival collections which bear directly upon the library's history: letters to Joseph Green Cogswell, superintendent of the Astor Library; some 200 letters (1859-73) from James Lenox to Edward G. Allen relating to the purchase of books for Lenox's library, and 33 from various persons to Lenox; the papers of C.A. Nelson, long associated with the Astor Library; and the papers of two New York Public Library directors, John Shaw Billings and Harry Miller Lydenberg; an extensive collection of bibliographical notes and other papers of Wilberforce Eames; the entire collection of manuscripts relating to Andrew Carnegie's gifts for public library development in New York City (including his famous letter of March 12, 1901, about his contribution of $5,200,000 toward the branch library building program).
Coverage of material about other libraries in the city and state is good, although there are noticeable gaps in the files of annual reports. There is a collection of the reports, check lists, and public library statistics of the New York State Library. The Manuscripts and Archives Division also has a group of documents relating to the early years of the Library Company of Philadelphia, the keystone being a "Memorandum of Agreement" with its first librarian, Louis Timothee, dated November 14, 1732, and signed and sealed by Benjamin Franklin and other directors of the company. Several collection--such as those on the Berkshire Republican Library, Stockbridge, Massachusetts: the Union Library, Western, New York; and the Lisbon Library, Newent, Connecticut--pertain to the early history of the American library movement. The division holds the papers of R.R. Bowker, founder and
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editor of Library Journal;
and the records of the New York Library Club for the period from 1901 to 1959.