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 South 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. The system holds 5.8 million volumes and more than 2 million e-books.
Located at the heart of NYU’s Washington Square campus, Bobst Library is central to its intellectual life. When school is in session, Bobst receives 10,000 visits per day and more than two million visits annually.
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-ready 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 access to digital resources for teaching, learning, research, and arts events. The Data Services Lab is equipped with high performance computers for qualitative, quantitative, and geographical research. The Studio and the Lab are staffed by expert consultants from the Libraries and NYU IT.
Bobst Library is home to the Libraries’ Special Collections Center, opened in September 2019 and designed for research into and exhibition of the Libraries’ extraordinarily rich special collections. The new Center co-locates the collections of three formerly separate repositories: Fales Library, Tamiment Library, and the University Archives. The renowned Tamiment Collections document the history of labor, socialism, anarchism, communism, and American radicalism. The Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives hold the Jewish Labor Committee Archives and the historical records of more than 130 New York City labor organizations. The Fales Collections include the Fales Collection of English and American Literature, one of the most comprehensive fiction collections in the country. The Fales Collections also focus on food studies, avant-garde New York music and art, and American history. For example, the unique Downtown Collection documents the Downtown New York literary and arts scene from the 1970s to the present, focusing on postmodern writing and dance, performance art, and the downtown music scene. Supporting NYU’s comprehensive programs in nutrition and food studies, the Marion Nestle Food Studies Collection documents American food history with a focus on New York City; the Dalia Carmel Collection includes regional and national cookbooks from all over the world. The Special Collections Center also houses the University Archives, which comprise the historical records of NYU.
NYU’s special collections are supported by the Barbara Goldsmith Preservation and Conservation Department, whose staff conserves and preserves archival material in all media, including papyrus, paper, plastic, 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 collaborating partner organizations.
Since 2004, NYU has renovated seven of Bobst Library’s 12 library floors; in late 2020, the total will be eight.
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.