From the time of its founding in 1831 until 1973, New York University housed its library collections in various campus locations. A major gift from Elmer Holmes Bobst and his wife, Mamdouha, enabled the university to bring its various collections together in a new library on Washington Square in 1973.
The striking, 12-story Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, designed by Philip Johnson and Richard Foster, is the flagship of a 10-library system that provides students and faculty members with access to the world’s scholarship. Located on Washington Square South, Bobst Library is at the center of the University community’s intellectual life. When school is in session, Bobst receives 10,500 visits per day; a total of 2.5 million visits annually.
For collection size and other statistics, see our annual Statistical Summary (PDF).
Bobst Library offers approximately 3,000 seats for student study. Its facilities include the Avery Fisher Center for Music and Media, one of the world’s largest academic media centers, with media-rich collaborative studies and carrels and the multi-channel Feldstein Immersion Room, which provides one of the most dramatic listening experiences in New York.
Also in Bobst Library, the Digital Studio offers a leading-edge resource for faculty and student projects and promotes and supports access to digital resources for teaching, learning, research, and arts events. The Data Services Lab workstations have high performance computers for qualitative, quantitative, and geographical research. The Studio and the Lab are staffed by expert consultants from both the Libraries and NYU IT.
Bobst Library is home to the Libraries’ extraordinary special collections. Tamiment Library is a world renowned center for scholarly research in the history of labor, socialism, anarchism, communism, and American radicalism. Tamiment includes the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, which holds the Jewish Labor Committee Archives and the historical records of more than 130 New York City labor organizations. The Fales Library holds the Fales Collection of English and American Literature, one of the most comprehensive collections of fiction in the United States; the unique Downtown Collection, which documents the Downtown New York literary and arts scene from the 1970s to the present, focusing on the developments of postmodern writing and dance, performance art, and the downtown music scene; and the Marion Nestle Food Studies Collection, which documents American food history with a focus on New York City. Bobst Library also houses the University Archives, which holds the historical records of NYU.
NYU’s collections are supported by the Barbara Goldsmith Preservation and Conservation Department, whose staff conserves and preserves archival material in all media, including papyrus, paper, magnetic tape, film, and more. NYU Digital Library Technology Services (DLTS) processes, enables access to, and preserves digital materials from both the NYU community and from collaborating partner organizations.
Since 2004, NYU has renovated seven of Bobst Library’s 12 library floors. The newest phase of renovation is creating a two-floor Special Collections Center that will co-locate all the Libraries’ special collections in a modern new facility with event and exhibition space as well as areas for quiet study, consultation, and instruction.
Beyond Bobst Library
The library of the renowned Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences focuses on research-level material in mathematics, computer science, and related fields. The Stephen Chan Library of the Institute of Fine Arts houses rich collections that support the research and curricular needs of the Institute’s graduate programs in art history and archaeology. Jack Brause Library at the SPS Midtown Center serves the information needs of the programs, students, and faculty based at the Center, as well as the real estate community. The Library of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW) is strong in Greek and Roman art and archaeology, Egyptology, Mesopotamian archaeology, Assyriology, Central Asia, Iran, and Asian art. In Brooklyn, the Bern Dibner Library at NYU Tandon School of Engineering specializes in science, engineering, and technology management.
The Health Sciences Libraries’ mission is to enhance learning, research, and patient care by managing knowledge-based resources, providing client-centered information services and education, and extending access through new initiatives in information technology. The Law Library supports the faculty and student research of the NYU School of Law.
Beyond New York City
The NYU Abu Dhabi Library and the NYU Shanghai Library are full-service libraries whose mission is to create a learning environment that brings together collections, high-capacity computing tools, and the professional assistance of library and IT staff to provide a single point of assistance for their students and faculty.