7 Obscure and Intriguing NYC Libraries

I'm always looking for new and interesting libraries to visit and lately I've come across many right in my own back yard. Here are 7 libraries I would love to visit (and one of which I actually work in!) located in New York City.


1) The Explorers Club


Located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the Explorer's Club is "an international multidisciplinary professional society dedicated to the advancement of field research and the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore." Their library collection boasts 13,000 volumes; 5,000 maps as well as 550 linear feet of archives and manuscripts, and 900 objects in its art and artifacts collection. Visitors can arrange to use the library by appointment.


2) The Conjuring Arts Research Center

This fantastic magic library holds "12,000 volumes devoted to magic and its allied arts. The collection is noted for its emphasis on early conjuring books, including more than a thousand volumes printed before the year 1900. Its 500 plus volume collection of conjuring books printed prior to 1700 is one of the better collections of early magic books." The library is located in the heart of Manhattan, has closed stacks, and arranges research appointments for interested visitors.


3) The Grolier Club


This beautiful membership club was founded in 1884 and boasts a 100,000-volume collection of books about books, the majority of which are made up of their 60,000-volume collection of bookseller and book auction catalogues. The library is open to members only with the exception of non-members whose focused research requires their unique holdings.


4) New York Society Library

This Upper East Side private institution is the city's oldest library, founded in 1754. The collection contains nearly 300,000 volumes reflecting the "reading interests of its members over the last 260 years. Strengths of the collection include fiction and literature, biography, history, social sciences, the arts, travel, and books about New York City. Over 4,000 volumes are added annually. The Library subscribes to over 100 periodicals, maintains an excellent collection of audiobooks, and offers access to various electronic resources." The library is open to members, membership is open to anyone over the age of 18.

5) The New York Law Institute Library (NYLI)

The New York Law Institute
Located in the financial district, this membership library was founded in 1828 and is the oldest circulating law library in New York City. NYLI has an impressive collection of current, unique, historical and hard-to-find materials including a collection of over 250,000 volumes, 70,000 eBooks, and many online research databases. They also house a robust collection of rare and varied works on legal topics dating back to 1558 including the Law Register of Alexander Hamilton, General Washington's copy of Corbin's Code de Louis XIII, the First Edition of Blackstone's Commentaries, and many more. The library is open to members or to researchers by special request. (Disclaimer: I work at this awesome library!)


6) The Morgan Library


Located on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, this amazing library is actually open to the public by appointment. The collection consists of "Pierpont Morgan's immense holdings [which] ranged from Egyptian art to Renaissance paintings to Chinese porcelains." Their online catalog, CORSAIR is named after Pierpont Morgan's yacht and contains "250,000 records for medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, rare and reference books, literary and historical manuscripts, music scores, ancient seals and tablets, drawings, prints, and other art objects. About 95 percent of the Morgan's holdings are represented in the catalog. Records continue to be added for the balance of the collection as well as for new acquisitions."


7) The Parapsychology Foundation

Parapsychology Foundation
The Eileen J. Garrett Library is now located at 308 Front Street in Greenport, New York, on the North Fork of Long Island – formerly located on Manhattan's Upper East Side. According to The New York Times, the library holds "more than 10,000 volumes on matters ranging from ghosts and poltergeists, psychic spies and healing research to spiritualism. It is a place where just about any assumption might be contemplated, and where psychic phenomena are accorded the respect that they have yet to receive in the material world beyond the tastefully appointed brownstone on East 71st Street."