National Library Week April 8-14, 2018

This week is National Library Week in the United States. National Library week is a time to consider the role that libraries play in our lives and celebrate the positive contributions they make to our communities. An earlier blog post highlighted libraries near Teachers College. This post will showcase some of the special libraries and collections in New York City.

American Craft Council Library

photo from

The American Craft Council Library
Love vibrant fiber art? Get excited about new carpentry, paper craft and folk art?
The American Craft Council (ACC) describes itself a nonprofit to preserve, cultivate, and celebrate craft heritage. The ACC supports and promotes craft artists through shows, its magazine, American Craft and through providing comprehensive research collections in its library. The library collection contains exhibition catalogs, artist files with ephemera, and numerous craft related periodicals and newsletters. The library is open to the public.



Weeber & Don Seed Catalog cover from 1904

photo from NYBG Mertz Digital Collections

The Mertz Library at the New York Botanical Gardens
Have an interest in the natural world? The Mertz Library at the New York Botanical Gardens collects items related to botany, horticulture and landscape design.  The collection includes beautifully illustrated rare books, photographic collections, artwork and botanical illustrations, files with newspaper clippings and ephemera as well as architectural drawings. You can also browse pages of lovely old seed catalogs, some available in digital form here.




Photo of stacks of film canisters

photo from NYPL

The Reserve Film and Video Collection at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
Did you know you can arrange to view political, social, and cultural documentaries; experimental films; video art; and animated films? Anyone with a New York Public Library card can view works from the library’s unique collection. In addition to providing access to the films and videos by appointments, the Reserve Film and Video Collection team also curate public screenings for 16mm Film Nights and other events.




Interference Archive

photo from Interference Archive

Interference Archive
Explore archives that tell stories of people working to transform and mobilize society. The Interference Archive collection documents social movements through books, audio recordings, ephemera and objects and contains over 10,000 items. The volunteer run organization also produces lively public programs that include film screenings, book talks, hands on creative workshops and block parties! Interference Archive has an open stacks policy and visitors can drop in anytime during open hours to browse this unique collection.



Lionel Mapleson with Edison Home Phonograph and extra large horn, probably at the Metropolitan Opera House.

Photo from NYPL Digital Collections

The Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
The second largest recorded sound collection in the united states is here in New York City. This fascinating and comprehensive collection includes both commercial and noncommercial recordings including music, spoken word, field recordings radio broadcasts, sonic art.  Holdings include nearly every audio format from early cylinder and wire recordings, acetate and vinyl discs to cassette and now digital files.  Magical workers in the library basement playback recordings that are piped into listening stations on the 3rd floor research area.



Photo of Conjuring Arts Library

photo from

Conjuring Arts Library
Looking for a little magic? The Conjuring Arts library has over 12,000 items related to conjuring practices and contains some of the earliest manuscripts and books on magic. The main library is open to researchers by appointment but the stacks cannot be browsed. However, since 2015 the Conjuring Arts Library has partnered with two local shops to also free access to circulating collections. Visitors can borrow books and a variety of magical apparatus like Linking Rings, Zombie Balls, and Topsy-Turvy Bottles.



Library at Goethe Insitut

Goethe Institut

Libraries at Cultural Institutes
Interested in books in a specific language or that focus on a particular culture? Many language and cultural organizations like Goethe Institut and Instituto Cervantes make their libraries open and free to the public. Browse books, periodicals and audiovisual resources in German, Spanish and in other languages by visiting some of the cultural institutes across the city.




National Library Week is a great time to set out and explore what libraries have to offer. Which library or archival collections would you recommend?