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Guide to the Schomburg Center's Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Division: Planning Your Appointment

This guide is designed to help new researchers get comfortable conducting research in the Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Division of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Research Preparations

Here are some things you should know before visiting the Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Division at the Schomburg Center. For additional information, check out the Plan Your Research Visit page.

  1. Always make sure to check the hours and holiday closings prior to planning your research appointments.
  2. In order to request items for in-person research, you need to have a FREE New York Public Library Card.
  3. In-person research appointments are limited. 
  4. We do not reserve a waiting list for our reading room.
  5. Because some of our collections are located off-site, requests for research appointments must be made with advance notice of 7 business days to ensure collection delivery to the Schomburg Center.
  6. Like most research libraries and archives, you will be required to store bags, coats, pens, and all personal items in a free locker. Please leave all food and drinks, including water, at home.
  7. Researchers are permitted to bring pencils (we provide notepaper), laptops or tablets, cell phones, and cameras into the reading room.
  8. All research appointments will be booked for timed appointments.
  9. If you are unsure of how to get started researching your topic, you can schedule a virtual research consultation for independent research guidance.
  10. If you have accessibility concerns, please email us at

Preparing for an In-Person Research Appointment

As of June 25, Virtual Research consultations are no longer required before in-person research appointments can be booked, however, they will still be offered.

Research Appointments must be scheduled a minimum of 7 days in advance of your desired appointment date. This allows us to make sure the materials you want to use can get to the Schomburg from offsite storage.

Appointments are booked on a first-come, first-served basis.

Our reading room will be open to scheduled researchers on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 11 am-5 pm.

Up to 6 researchers can book an appointment in a single day.

Each researcher is limited to 6 items during their research appointment.

Masks are encouraged but not required.

Virtual Research Consultations

Research consultations are virtual appointments with the reference librarian of this division.

During the research consultation, you will be able to ask questions about collections, learn how to search the NYPL Catalog, the Archives Portal, and the NYPL Digital Collections.

Copying and Photographs

NYPL Special Collections has created a temporary free scanning service for archival materials. To learn more about this service, please schedule a research consultation. After the research consultation the reference librarian will send you our scan request form for the current month.

Below are some tips for preparing a scan request from the Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Division of the Schomburg Center:

  • Please go here for a list of our collections by subject heading,
  • Each of the collections in this list are linked to either the Archives Portal which should direct you to a finding aid, or the NYPL catalog record. Use the information in these places to learn about each collection. If the "Detailed Description" tab, with the list of box and folder contents  is not available, email us directly and we will send you information about the collection.  
  • Identify the folder that you would like scanned and complete the form provided by the reference librarian. Please note that due to size, volume, and condition of materials, not all items will be able to be scanned.

If you are seeking permission to publish images, please contact our division and the NYPL Permission Department at 

Additional information on Document Delivery, High Quality Reproductions, and NYPL Fee-Based Services can be discovered through NYPL Research Services.

Booking an In-Person Research Appointment

To request an in-person research appointment, please create a Special Collections Account, then follow these steps:

  1. Click on "Schedule and Request" 
  2. Select "Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture"
  3. To request archival collections, use the request links in the finding aids located in our the Archives Portal.
  4. Once you've identified the collection you wish to request, use the checkboxes within the finding aid to select the boxes you'd like to view. For collections or items without any checkboxes displayed, please contact staff
  5. To request rare books, use request links in item records in the Research Catalog
  6. Email with questions.
  7. Cancel an appointment under "scheduled appointments"; if within seven days of appointment, email

Read through the finding aid to decide which parts of the collection will be the most helpful when searching for information on your research topic. 

Select which boxes you are interested in using based on the information in the container list.

When you have decided, go back to the top of the finding aid and click the hyperlinked text : "Request an in-person research appointment."

Screenshot of an archival collection finding aid's information box with a black circle around blue text "request an in person research appointment"

This will bring you to the checkbox form where you will check off each box you would like to see in the collection. 

Screenshot of an archival collection's checked boxed menu


Each researcher may request up to 6 boxes each day of their research visit.

Researchers can use one box, and one folder at a time to ensure materials remain in order.

Contact us!

Send us an email with any questions about policy, materials, hours, or research questions.

Schedule a virtual research consultation to talk with the reference librarian about your project.