The 10 Best Libraries in New York!

Libraries act to protect our history and culture through immense collections of books, manuscripts, digital files, and artifacts that are often available for free for the public to access. The special collections at these libraries in New York educate about American culture with niche focuses like art, dance, black culture, and location-specific publications. Additionally, many of these libraries offer excellent free events open to the community including events for children, teens, adults, and seniors. Take advantage of this public service and support your local library by visiting one of these excellent libraries in New York.

1. New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, New York, NY

Is there any more iconic a library in New York City? With its prominent architecture and majestic lions flanking its steps, the NYPL Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is by far the most recognizable and top library in the entire state. Typically open seven days per week, visitors can marvel at the ornate ceilings in the General Research Division, attend free programs in the Children’s Center, or browse the collections in the Dorot Jewish Division. Wi-Fi access, photocopiers, and scanners are other amenities available at this library.

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2. New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis Cullman Center, New York, NY

The NYPL has numerous stand-out branches doing great work in literacy throughout the city. The LPA branch at Lincoln Center Plaza is entirely focused on the performing arts, boasting a theater on film archive, a music division, and a dance division. Those interested in music will find the Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound. Additional amenities at the LPA include an online song index, a café, and reading rooms.

3. Central Library, Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn, NJ

The striking façade and ornate bronze columns at the Central Library of the Brooklyn Public Library has led the building to be designated a New York City Landmark. Inside, visitors will find the Brooklyn Collection, that is entirely focused on Brooklyn’s culture and history and several other excellent centers and reading rooms. To please all visitors, books are available in 30 languages. Numerous events are also offered here including a fiber arts group, chess club, story time featuring special guests, and summer reading party.

4. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York, NY

Another branch of the NYPL, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture features inspiring divisions in which visitors can dig deep into black culture. The Arts and Artifacts Division features bold paintings and collects documents, arts, and artifacts from people of African heritage. Programs include LGBT Pride exhibitions and speakers.

5. Jefferson Market Library, New York, NY

A former courthouse built in the 1800s with extremely notable architecture, especially notable for its time, this iconic building has since been turned into a branch of the NYPL. Jefferson Market Library offers several weekly events for children including baby story time, toddler story time, arts and crafts, and Owls and Otters Storytime. The library also has a special collection of books focused on Greenwich Village.

6. Albany Public Library, Bach Branch, Albany, NY

The relatively new Bach Branch of the Albany Public Library features a sleek exterior with a partial glass wall. An abundance of free programs are open and available to the public here including Good Night Storytime, science experiments, ballroom dancing, LEGO club, and more. Curious little kids will find the Little Thinkers Doll Kits, which are kits including a doll, biography, and activity sheets about famous women. The library further works to benefit the community with an R.N. available on specific dates to check blood pressure.

7. Albany Public Library, Howe Branch, Albany, NY

Located in a historic 1929 building, the Howe Branch of the Albany Public Library offers more excellent events for the community. Free events include High School Equivalency Classes, resume help, piano lessons, and a gaming zone. Other amenities include a creative writing group, tutoring, Wi-Fi, and sewing meet-ups with use of sewing machines.

8. Montauk Library, Montauk, NY

In addition to physical books available to browse at the library, the Montauk Library has a collection of eBooks, audiobooks, and magazines available for patrons to borrow. Events are available for children and adults at the Montauk Library including sensory play, tech lessons, yoga, movie nights, bilingual story time, and English conversation groups. Other services available include eReader loans, Wi-Fi, printing, and computer work stations.

9. Onondaga County Public, Petit Branch Library, Syracuse, NY

Located near Syracuse University, the Petit Branch of the public library was first opened in 1928. It focuses mainly on children’s books and even includes a toy library. The Petit Branch features numerous events for children and teens including chess club, writing and drawing groups, story and song time, and a summer learning program.

10. The Morgan Library and Museum, New York, NY

Created by Pierpont Morgan, what once was a private, personal library, the Morgan Library and Museum was gifted to the public in 1924. Now a museum and library open to visitors, the Morgan Library holds a vast collection of rare books and manuscripts, art objects, prints, and ancient artifacts that were once collected by Morgan. Though admission must be paid to visit this library, the impressiveness of the interior is worth a visit. And, if the admission price is too steep for your budget, be sure to visit on Fridays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., as the admission is free.

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