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History of the 42nd Street Library: Collections


This page features books and articles that describe the contents in each collection at 42nd Street Library as they have developed over time. These sources are valuable for anyone who want to know where the Library's materials originated from, how they were collected and organized, and the myriad of ways the Library's materials have been made available to the public.

Classifying Collections

The Library's classification systems have their own fascinating histories which provide another entry point to exploring the history of the institution as a whole. The research collections at NYPL have been categorized in three distinct ways: Billings (1890), Fixed Order (1956), and Library of Congress (2006). The accompanying texts provide overview histories of the three categorization systems at NYPL and can be found using the Research Catalog.

Historic Library Handbooks

Staff prepared these booklets as introductions or handbooks for patrons learning to use the Library's collections. Below, you'll find a century of research advice!

Collection Histories

Divisional Histories

In the Library's Research Centers, divisions house materials focusing on specific subject areas. These sources are centered on particular materials at the Library and how they've evolved over time: