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Collections: A General Description

The Libraries of New York University hold collections totaling more than 4 million volumes, almost 5 million microforms, 500,000 government documents, 80,000 sound and video recordings and a wide range of electronic resources. The collections grow by more than 140,000 volumes annually. Over 700,000 of these items circulate each year. The Division of Libraries consists of the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library and the Libraries of the Institute of Fine Arts, the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences and the Real Estate Institute. Separate libraries support the curricula of the schools of Law, Medicine and Dentistry.

Elmer Holmes Bobst Library supports the research and instructional needs of the University’s Washington Square programs. Shelved in open stacks on the second and fourth through tenth floor is the library’s circulating collection of 2.5 million volumes. Bobst subscribes to over 19,000 serials and houses more than 3.6 million microform items and almost 500,000 documents. This includes one of the nation’s largest collections of United Nations document. Bobst’s Avery Fisher Center for Music and Media houses almost 14,000 videos and 45,000 audio recordings.

The research value of Bobst’s resources are enhanced by its special collections. The Fales Library houses nearly 200,000 rare books relating to nineteenth and twentieth century British and American literature and nearly 3,000 linear feet of manuscripts. Among its many manuscript collections, the Fales Downtown Collection documents New York’s art and literary scene from 1975 to the present. The Tamiment Library, with over 80,000 volumes and more than 15,000 linear feet of manuscripts, is one of the nation’s finest collections for scholarly research in labor history, socialism, anarchism, and American radicalism. Tamiment also houses the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives and the Archives of Irish America.

The Library of the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences is located at 251 Mercer Street. It’s collection of 70,000 volumes supports research in mathematics, computer science and related fields, including fluid mechanics, image processing and robotics

The Libraries of NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts include the Stephen Chan Library of Fine Arts, located on the second floor of the Duke House at 1 East 78th Street, and the Conservation Center Library, located in the Chan House at 14 East 78th Street. The collections, totaling more than 150,000 volumes, support the Institute’s graduate programs in art history, archaeology and fine arts conservation.

The Jack Brause Library is located at 11 West 42 Street in midtown Manhattan. With a collection of just over 2,000 volumes, it is the most comprehensive facility of its kind, meeting the needs of the University’s program in real estate development and investment and the needs of the broader real estate community.

Collection Development

The library’s collection development program is managed by subject specialists assigned to the various reference centers at Bobst Library. Subject specialists select books, journals, and other materials in accordance with the library’s collection development policy that reflects the needs of the University’s teaching and research programs. Subject specialists also provide liaison to the schools and departments. The selectors’ works is coordinated by the Director of Collection and Research Services, in consultation with the library’s bibliographers.

Book and Journal Selection

Faculty participation in the selection process is welcomed and encouraged. Requests may be sent directly to the subject specialist. Whenever possible, please include as much bibliographic information - author, title, publisher, and place and date of publication - as is available.

The selection and receipt of current books is expedited through the use of approval plans for domestic and foreign publications. These plans provide books based on a detailed, pre-determined subject profile to ensure regular timely receipt of scholarly materials often at a discount.

Because subscriptions involve the commitment of both current and future funds, all journal requests are carefully scrutinized. This ensures the library’s continued ability to add new titles on a selective basis despite budget limitations. Consequently, any information about a journal’s academic quality and pertinence to the curriculum, including tables of contents or the loan of a sample copy, will assist in the review process. For more information on collection development, see Faculty Information Bulletin #1 at Bobst Library.


The library welcomes contributions and gifts of books and other materials that will enhance the strength of its collections. Of particular interest are scholarly or rare items with research value that are in good physical condition. For more information about making a contribution or donating materials to the Library, see our Giving Page.