FAQ: The New York State Library

Who is eligible to borrow materials?

Circulation/Borrowing: Direct borrowing privileges for circulating materials are extended to:

  • NYS Residents
  • Permanently appointed New York State government employees
  • Licensed physicians resident in New York State
  • Attorneys admitted to the New York State bar and resident in New York State
  • Local historians appointed by New York State local governmental bodies
  • Retired New York State government employees

All direct borrowers must have a borrower's card from the New York State Library (NYSL). To apply for a NYSL borrower's card, contact staff in the Circulation Unit at (518) 473-7895 or nyslcirc@nysed.gov.

Temporary cards may be issued for eligible full-time New York State agency interns. Inquire at the Circulation Desk at (518) 473-7895.

Other individuals may borrow books and other circulating materials from the New York State Library by contacting the Interlibrary Loan office of their own local library.

On-Site Use: Members of the general public are welcome to use the Library's collections Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for study and research. (The Library is closed on New York State holidaysexternal link.)

For more information, see our How to Apply for a Library Card and Use of Library Resources web page.

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How does Interlibrary Loan work?

Please see our "Interlibrary Loan" page at http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/ill.htm.

Can New York residents access the Library online?

Yes, registered borrowers can access the online databases remotely, and New York State residents can now borrow directly from the New York State Library. All databases are also available for onsite use.

NOVELNY Databases are also available to New York State residents through their local public library, academic library or school library.

What newspapers does the Library have?

Please see our Access to Newspapers page for information on how to search Excelsior, which Newspapers are on Microfilm, and which are in printed format.

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How do I access materials in Manuscripts and Special Collections?

Manuscripts and Special Collections is open for on-site research on the 11th floor, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday excluding New York State legal holidays. Material is retrieved for research at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. daily.

You can contact this unit at New York State Library, Manuscripts and Special Collections, CEC, Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12230. Phone: (518) 474-6282. (See also, Finding Aids to Manuscripts Collections.)

When is the Library open?

See Library hours and holidays .

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How do I get to the Library?

See directions and parking information.

Can I request materials electronically through the catalog?

See Requesting NYSL Materials Electronically through Excelsior.

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Is there a public library for people who need recorded or braille books or magazines?

Yes, there are four libraries in New York State which serve everyone eligible for recorded and braille books:

You are eligible for this library service if you can't see well enough to read conventional print, or have a physical limitation which prevents you from holding a book or turning its pages, or have a physically-based reading disability. For more information, see the list below (if you live in another state, contact the regional library for that state):

  • NLS: Find a Libraryexternal link: Regional and Subregional Libraries/Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. ("Or call call 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323) and be connected with the library serving your area.")

Are there any job openings at the New York State Library?

The New York State Library is part of the New York State Education Department (SED). Please see SED's Employment Opportunites page.

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What classification system does the New York State Library use?

The primary classification scheme for the NYSL is the Dewey Decimal Classification Systemexternal link.

Many items are also classified with the Superintendent of Documents Classification Systemexternal link.

Because we have so many New York State documents, the New York State Library also has its own "home created" New York State Document system.

Last Updated: October 30, 2014