About The New York Public Library

92 Locations: Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island

“The New York Public Library has provided essential access to books and information for more than a century. Today, we are building on that legacy by increasing access to our collections physically and online, and by transforming our libraries into proactive centers of education and opportunity for all New Yorkers. ”
—Tony Marx, President, The New York Public Library 


Patience and Fortitude for All New Yorkers

Marble lion wearing a blue face mask, with a red banner in the background that says NY Forever

Since its founding in 1895, The New York Public Library has unwaveringly served New York City, no matter the circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic brought forth unprecedented challenges for our city and our patrons. But as it has always done, the Library quickly adapted to ensure communities could still access the information and resources they needed. While constantly monitoring the rapidly changing circumstances, the Library increased its core digital services—from e-book access to online learning support for students, remote research services, online programs, and virtual one-on-one job support. And as soon as it could, the Library reopened all available branch locations across the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island in phases to ensure that New Yorkers could access the services and resources they rely on.

The Library was founded on the ideals of free and open access to knowledge and opportunity for everyone. The challenges of 2020 and 2021 did not deter, but rather reaffirmed NYPL’s central objective to serve New Yorkers through even the most turbulent times—a testament to the enduring legacy of the Library as one of the city’s most essential civic institutions.


Our Story

Image of the first page of a report that reads: The New York Public Library: Year in Impact (March 2020–March 2021)
Explore NYPL's Year in Impact (March 2020–March 2021). 

The New York Public Library has been an essential provider of free books, information, ideas, and education for all New Yorkers for more than 125 years. Founded in 1895, NYPL is the nation’s largest public library system, featuring 92 locations across the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, including our world-renowned research centers at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Together with our circulating branches, including the all-new Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL), the Library provides an extraordinary richness of resources and opportunities available to all.

With millions of visitors through our doors annually, and millions more around the globe, the Library holds over 54 million items, from books, e-books, and DVDs to renowned research collections used by scholars worldwide. Housed in our research centers, NYPL’s historical collections hold such treasures as a draft of the Declaration of Independence written in Thomas Jefferson's hand, one of the few surviving copies of the Gutenberg Bible, and original works, manuscripts, letters, and more by luminaries in literature and art, including William Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf, James Baldwin, Charles Dickens, Maya Angelou, John Coltrane, Augusta Savage, and more.

NYPL’s neighborhood libraries in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island—many of which date to Andrew Carnegie’s visionary philanthropy at the turn of the 20th century—are centers of educational innovation and service, vital community hubs that provide far more than just free books and materials. Our local libraries play a key role in closing the digital divide, especially for the millions of New Yorkers who don’t have internet access at home. New York City public school students rely on their local branches for homework help. The city’s immigrant communities count on NYPL’s English language and literacy classes. Job seekers depend on our comprehensive job search resources. Altogether, the Library offers tens of thousands of free programs annually, serving everyone from toddlers to teens to seniors.

In the always expanding digital realm, The New York Public Library provides patrons worldwide with powerful online tools to help them discover its extensive resources and services. On nypl.org visitors can browse the Library’s immense collections, download e-books, and view more than 900,000 items from our award-winning Digital Collections. Through SimplyE, the Library’s free e-reader app, users can borrow instantly from NYPL’s entire collection of more than 300,000 library e-books in just a few easy steps. Through Ask NYPL our librarians are available to answer patron questions on any topic at any time. 

Supported by both public funds and private donations, The New York Public Library embarks on its next 125 years passionately committed to meeting the ever-changing needs of our patrons. For the millions who depend on us in this, the world’s most vibrant and diverse city, NYPL is more important than ever.

Collage of three side-by-side photos featuring exteriors of the Library for the Performing Arts, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library, and the Schomburg Center