New York Public Libraries Aren't Just For Locals

New York Public Libraries Aren't Just For Locals

The New York Public Library spans 92 locations across Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island. With over 51 million items between the circulating and research collections, the NYPL has plenty of information to go around. But these resources aren't just for locals.

Every year, the NYPL puts on thousands of programs, events and exhibitions for the public—and a majority are free to attend. The libraries themselves are also just neat places to look around. Some of these buildings are historic landmarks while others are home to beautiful gardens or interesting architecture. There's no need for a library card to check out these NYC treasures. Here's three great libraries to explore:

Stephen A. Schwarzman Building: With the regal marble lions—Patience and Fortitude—keeping watch out front, this building is probably what comes to mind when one thinks of the New York Public Library. A central reference library, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is home to rare books, manuscripts and archives of the history of New York and the United States.

It is also a hub for many exciting programs and events. Visitors can take self-guided audio tours or docent-led walking tours of the building, which houses artwork and a revolving series of exhibitions that cover a spectrum of topics from "Sesame Street" to the history of women in printmaking. On Wednesdays, guests can take part in the free Books at Noon series that features Q&A sessions with acclaimed authors.

There is also a ticketed event series; LIVE from the NYPL. Started in 2005, LIVE brings guest artists, authors, public figures, filmmakers and other culture-influencers to share their experiences with attendees. Past speakers/entertainers include Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood, Jay-Z, Joan Didion and Jonathan Franzen, among many others.

New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center (Courtesy NYPL)

New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center: This library is home to of one of the world's most extensive collections of reference, archival and circulating material regarding the performing arts. Located at Lincoln Center, this is the place to find sheet music, press materials, photos, video recordings and more. Events are geared toward the arts as well—most are free, but some required tickets. There are weekly jazz concerts, a variety of film series screenings, classical music performances, concerts featuring songs from Broadway composers and master classes with professionals from the performing arts community.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture: This research unit of the NYPL in Harlem is a leading institution devoted to African and African-American experiences throughout history and culture. This facility focuses on the preservation of materials and is the home of rare books, manuscripts and archival documents including music and rare prints. The Arts and Artifacts Division has over 20,000 items—paintings, sculptures, textiles and more—many from the Harlem Renaissance Era. The Photographs and Print Division has over half a million images ranging from the slave era through contemporary public figures. The Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division has film—documentaries, early footage, classics—and recordings of radio programs, interviews and oral histories in its collection. Events and programming for people of all ages offer further insight to the significant impact of African history and culture on the community and the world. Music concerts, dance performances, guest lecturers, film screenings, poetry readings and more are open to the public.

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