New York State Library

New York State Library
Country U.S.A.
Type Government and Research Library
Established 1818
Location 222 Madison Avenue, Albany, NY 12230
Size 20 million+ print items; 50,000+ digital items
Access and use
Population served New York residents
Other information
Director Bernard Margolis, State Librarian
The New York State Library is located in the Cultural Education Center.

The New York State Library was established in 1818 to serve the government of the state. The library is one of the largest in the world by number of items held, with over 20 million.[1]

The Library is part of the New York State Education Department. The Library and its sister institutions, the New York State Museum and New York State Archives, are housed in the Cultural Education Center, which is part of the Empire State Plaza, a large complex of state government offices in downtown Albany, New York, United States.

The New York State Library was formerly located in the New York State Capitol and then across Washington Avenue in the New York State Education Building. An annex containing books, journals, and newspapers is still located in the basement of the Education Building. The library undertook an effort to discard some of these items in 2014.[2]


Research Library

Library interior late 19th century.

The New York State Library was established in 1818 to serve the government of New York State.

By 1855, the New York State Library was open to the public. A Shaker brother from New Lebanon, New York, visited it in November 1855 and marveled at the free access to books: "I went awhile to the state library, free for the public — looked round — and was much edified with the wonderful collection of books, maps, &c — much art & expense is displayed there. Any one can look around, or read what he pleases — by only calling for what book he wants. I sat & talked awhile with the Librarian."[3]

Although its scope has increased since then, one of the State Library's primary functions is still to serve as a repository for the official publications of New York State government (the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as the commissions, public authorities, and other agencies). The Library is also a depository for federal government documents.

The New York State Library's collections have a strong focus on the history and culture of New York State, including extensive holdings in local history and genealogy.

The Digital Collections of the New York State Library consist of over 50,000 documents, including New York State government publications and historical materials from 18th and 19th century from many subjects areas.

On March 29, 1911, a fire in the Assembly Chamber of the New York State Capitol, where the Library was located at the time, devastated the Library's collections, destroying approximately 450,000 books and 270,000 manuscripts[4] including some of the historical records documenting New York's early Dutch and colonial history, translated by Francois Adriaan van der Kemp.

Talking Book and Braille Library

The New York State Talking Book and Braille Library (TBBL) is a unit of the New York State Library, but it is also a Regional Library in the nationwide program coordinated by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, a division of the Library of Congress, in Washington DC.

TBBL lends braille and recorded books and magazines, and the necessary equipment to play recorded books, to New York State residents who are unable to read standard printed materials because of a visual or physical disability. TBBL serves residents of the 55 upstate counties of New York State; the Andrew Heiskell Library, a unit within the New York Public Library, serves residents of New York City and Long Island.

History of TBBL

Library Development

The Division of Library Development provides statewide leadership and advisory services to all libraries – public, school, academic and special – throughout New York. Library Development:


  1. "About the New York State Library". 20 March 2010. Archived from the original on 2012-03-25. Retrieved 2010-07-15.
  2. Grondahl, Paul (18 January 2014). "State Library's tough calls on what to save, what to shred". Albany Times Union. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  3. Isaac Newton Youngs, Personal Journal, November 7, 1855, Western Reserve Historical Society Shaker ms. V:B-134.
  4. Roseberry, Cecil R. (1964). Capitol Story. Albany: State of New York.
  5. "Books for the blind; Director of State Library urges the afflicted to read". New York Times. 22 Feb 1900. p. 7.

Coordinates: 42°38.9′0″N 73°45.7′0″W / 42.64833°N 73.76167°W / 42.64833; -73.76167

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