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    Melvil Dewey (1851–1931) is credited with founding librarianship as we know it today. He created the Dewey Decimal System as a 21-year-old library assistant, and then started a library school, established Library Journal , and helped found American Library Association. He once championed women in the professionalthough it was partly because librarianship could be deemed "women's work"but he irreparably tarnished his legacy with appalling sexism and a long history of sexual harassment (including a documented incident with an NYPL staff member in 1905), as well as overt racism and anti-Semitism.

    The organizational structure Dewey created, which assigns a numerical code to most works of nonfiction, has been around since 1876. It continues to grow and evolve every day, sometimes to course-correct for its dated, problematic, or just plain weird classifications.

    Just the fact of its evolution means it's still broadly usable and pragmatic, however—and it's impossible not to fall in love with some of its idiosyncracies. Public libraries all over the world still use the Dewey Decimal System every day to make sense of the vast array of books in the world, find them quickly, and get them into the hands of readers.

    In that spirit, we've constructed an (extremely unscientific) quiz to determine which of our favorite Dewey headings we all fall under. Are you a 060, a lover of rules and guidelines? Are you an 818 joker? How about an 031 perfectionist or maybe a 629.8, possibly a robot? Find out below!

    And to learn more about the Dewey Decimal System, check out a guide to the Dewey Decimal System and our intro to the basics.




    Want to actually learn something about the Dewey Decimal System? Check out the following resources that helped inform this quiz:


    Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

    Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations.

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    "Titanic Sinking; No Lives Lost." from the Vancouver Daily World

    Library staff and patrons of The New York Public Library have never been more excited about an online resource than they have been about, and with very good reason! The New York Public Library already provides access to hundreds of historical and current newspapers, however, is the largest online newspaper archive. This online resource includes a special focus on full runs and portions of runs of well-known, regional and state titles in addition to small local newspapers. The collection includes a broad range of dates,  which mostly cover the 19th and 20th centuries. Patrons of The New York Public Library can visit any NYPL location and explore over 11,000 newspapers! 

    This resource is especially popular with genealogy researchers, because people can access obituaries and local stories in small town newspapers. Historians also find this a valuable resource to see how events were covered in smaller regions of the country and other parts of the world.  However, this database is also an excellent learning tool, and if you know where to look you can take away valuable life lessons. To give you an example, here are five lessons to take away from our exploration of

    1. Learn How to Write Your Online Dating Profile

    Before the myriad of on online dating apps and websites came into existence, people relied on the "Lonely Hearts" columns of local newspapers to find their match. With the restriction of a limited word count, it took a clever hand to get the message across that the person was a desirable mate. Take a look at a couple of skillfully written entries we found:

    "Lonely Hearts" from The Evening News

    2. Learn How to Be The Life of The Party

    A good party or social event always has good party games. If you are searching for ways to always keep your guests excited about your events, look for games and contests in local newspapers. Here are a couple you might be interested in:

    "Several of the Events Were Not All That They Seemed . . ." from the Dayton Daily News 

    3. Learn What to Do When Kidnapped By Gangsters

    In the 1930s, a nineteen year old Brooklyn man was kidnapped by gangsters. After his ordeal he decided to write about how he survived and shared it with the world, his story was highlighted in the Albuquerque Journal in 1938.

    "What to Do When Kidnapped!"  from the Albuquerque Journal

    4. Get Sound Advice For Life's Most Troubling Problems

    Advice columns were one of the most popular features in daily newspapers for decades. "The Dear Abby" column achieved international fame, while other smaller papers had local advice-givers as well. With the perfect blend of common sense and snark, advice columns helped numerous people out of everyday binds. 

    "Dear Abby"  from the Kossuth County Advance

    5. Learn the Local Laws of Other Countries

    If you are planning on traveling or moving abroad, it is wise to have an understanding of the local laws. provides coverage of and access to international news and newspapers! 

    "A Law Recently Enacted . . ."  fromThe Lancaster News


    Now that you have experienced a small taste of what has to offer, visit your local New York Public Library branch or research library, get your library card and then jump in! While you're there, explore the other 500 + online resources available. You can also learn more about our online resources by visiting our LibGuide.



    "Dear Abby." Kossuth County Advance (Algona, Kossuth, Iowa), 29 Dec 1966. Page 5. 

    "A Law Recently Enacted...." The Lancaster News (Lancaster, South Carolina), 28 May 1898. Page 1.

    "Lonely Hearts." The Evening News (Harrisburg, Dauphin, Pennsylvania), 5 Nov 1928. Page 14.

    "Several of the Events Were Not All That They Seemed...." Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Montgomery, Ohio), 27 Aug 1922. Page 38.

    "Titanic Sinking; No Lives Lost." Vancouver Daily World (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 15 Apr 1912. Page 1.

    "What to Do When Kidnapped!" Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, New Mexico), 4 Dec 1938. Page 18.


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    Ethan Lipton and his Orchestra
    Ethan Lipton and his Orchestra perform at LIVE from the NYPL on December 13

    Welcome to our bi-weekly update on events happening during the next two weeks at The New York Public Library. With 92 locations across New York City, there's a lot going on! We're highlighting some of our events here, including author talks, free classes, community art shows, performances, concerts, and exhibitions—and you can always find more at If you want to receive our round-up in your inbox, sign up here. We look forward to seeing you at the Library soon. 

    Selected Events

    Scott Joplin's Ragtime: Tyehimba Jess and Reginald R. Robinson
    Join the Schomburg Center for an evening of music and conversation as Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tyehimba Jess and musician and composer Reginald R. Robinson explore the music of Scott Joplin, ragtime traditions, and contemporary influences.
    Thursday, December 13 | 6:30 PM
    Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

    LIVE from the NYPL | Ethan Lipton and his Orchestra: A Night of Song in Praise of the Unlived Life
    Presented as The Richard B. Salomon Distinguished Lecture, Ethan Lipton and his Orchestra treat us to an evening of original music. Inspired by the writing of psychoanalyst Adam Phillips and his literary references—from fiction to poetry, Shakespeare to Freud—Lipton's lyrics will resonate throughout the Library, from the stacks to the stage.
    Thursday, December 13 | 7 PM
    Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

    A Velocity of Being: Maria Popova and Guests
    In an evening of readings and live performances, contributors to a new collection of letters curated by Maria Popova of Brain Pickings reflect on how they have been shaped by a lifetime of reading.
    Saturday, December 15 | 7 PM
    Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

    How to Read a Protest: L.A. Kauffman with Avram Finkelstein
    Grassroots organizer L.A. Kauffman discusses her new illustrated history of major American demonstrations, from the 1963 March on Washington to the present day, with Avram Finkelstein, an artist and founding member of the "Silence=Death" and "Gran Fury" collectives.
    Wednesday, December 19 | 6:30 PM
    Mid-Manhattan Library at 42nd Street

    Ned Rorem Celebration
    Join the Library for the Performing Arts for a commemorative celebration of Ned Rorem—one of America's most honored and beloved living composers.
    Thursday, December 20 | 7 PM
    Library for the Performing Arts

    Storyworthy: Matthew Dicks with Erin Baker
    Elementary school teacher, author, and award-winning Moth storyteller Matthew Dicks believes everyone has a story to tell and has tips and techniques for narrators of all stripes on constructing, telling, and polishing a tale.
    Wednesday, December 26 | 6:30 PM
    Mid-Manhattan Library at 42nd Street

    Business, Career & Finance

    The Spirituality of Financial Planning
    Professor of religion Constantina Rhodes introduces classic teachings on prosperity that can help you acquire a healthy, practical, and spiritually sound attitude toward your financial life.
    Tuesday, December 11 | 6 PM
    Science, Industry and Business Library

    Be a Social CEO
    Learn how to gain a competitive advantage to social media by taking a fresh approach and looking beyond the collective noise to make intelligent and informed decisions.
    Thursday, December 13 | 6 PM
    Science, Industry and Business Library

    How to Get Employers Interested in You
    Career coach Win Sheffield teaches how to present yourself powerfully by recognizing the value that you bring to the market.
    Wednesday, December 19 | 6 PM
    Science, Industry and Business Library


    Technology Programs and Classes
    TechConnect offers more than 80 technology classes at libraries throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island—all for free! There are classes for all students from beginner to advanced, including series courses for those who want more in-depth knowledge. Browse classes.

    More Events

    Fraver by Design: Five Decades of Theatre Poster Art from Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Beyond
    Thursday, December 13 | 6 PM
    Library for the Performing Arts

    Winter Book Club: Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood
    Wednesday, December 19 | 5:30 PM
    Harry Belafonte–115th Street Library

    16mm Film Screening: The Pantomime Dame
    Wednesday, December 19 | 6:30 PM
    Seward Park Library

    Popovers and Candlelight: Marcia Biederman with Michael David Quinn
    Wednesday, January 2 | 6:30 PM
    Mid-Manhattan Library at 42nd Street

    Walking Harlem: Karen Faye Taborn with Herb Boyd
    Wednesday, January 9 | 6:30 PM
    Mid-Manhattan Library at 42nd Street

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    Listen on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Google Podcasts.

    Welcome to our first-ever live show, recorded in Frank's very own Jefferson Market Library! Gwen and Frank talk to Eric Klinenberg, sociologist and author of a new book about libraries and social infrastructure. Plus: the audience offers an invaluable assist during the guessing game.

    Gwen, Frank, and Willa (Cather) in Jefferson Market.

    Guest Star: Eric Klinenberg

    Palaces for the People by Eric Klinenberg

    More of his work in our catalog and on his website

    $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America by Kathryn Edin

    Books by Barbara Ehrenreich

    O Cafe in Greenwich Village (and pão de queijo)



    How to listen to The Librarian Is In

    Subscribing to The Librarian Is In on your mobile device is the easiest way to make sure you never miss an episode. Episodes will automatically download to your device, and be ready for listening every other Thursday morning

    On your iPhone or iPad:
    Open the purple “Podcasts” app that’s preloaded on your phone. If you’re reading this on your device, tap this link to go straight to the show and click “Subscribe.” You can also tap the magnifying glass in the app and search for “The New York Public Library Podcast.”

    On your Android phone or tablet:
    Open the orange “Play Music” app that’s preloaded on your device. If you’re reading this on your device, click this link to go straight to the show and click “Subscribe.” You can also tap the magnifying glass icon and search for “The New York Public Library Podcast.” 

    Or if you have another preferred podcast player, you can find “The New York Public Library Podcast” there. (Here’s the RSS feed.)

    From a desktop or laptop:
    Click the “play” button above to start the show. Make sure to keep that window open on your browser if you’re doing other things, or else the audio will stop. You can always find the latest episode at

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  • 12/13/18--05:13: The 12 Days of Bookness 2018
  • 12 days of bookness

    It's time for The New York Public Library's second annual celebration of our entirely made-up bookish holiday!

    During the 12 days of Bookness, we'll be counting down lists of book recommendations in a different category every day. This year, Bookness runs until December 24, and categories range from cli-fi (the newly minted genre of disastrous climate fiction) to other worlds (books that will transport you to a different time and place) and myth retellings to works in translation to YA novels with crossover appeal for adults.

    Happy Bookness to all, and to all a good read! 

    On the second day of Bookness, we highly recommend: 2 translations . . .

    Disorientalby Négar Djavadi, translated from the French by Tina Kover

    Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, translated from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori

    And a library card for everyone!

    From checking out books and visiting some of New York City's cultural institutions, to streaming a movie and accessing hundreds of research databases—there is so much you can do with a New York Public Library card! Do you have your library card and are looking for book recommendations? Our Staff Picks are a great place to start!

    Check back for all the days of Bookness, and take a look at last year's suggestions too. And tell us what you're reading with the hashtag #Bookness on Twitter or Facebook!


    Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

    Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!

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    Zena sitting in a corner, drinking from a mug, surrounded by books about coffee. Graphic has the call number 641.3373
    Zena likes to start the day in 641.3373 -Coffee.

    Did you wake up this morning with some 641.3373? Or perhaps you prefer 641.3372. Spend any time doing 643.7 or 746.46 this weekend?

    We don’t usually have conversations in code at the Library, but we do love our Dewey Decimal call numbers as a way of organizing and finding books and other resources. To celebrate National Dewey Decimal System Day on December 10, librarians at Mid-Manhattan Library at 42nd Street posed for photos with some of their favorite call numbers.

    As part of the celebration, I asked my colleagues what they would most like Library patrons to know about the Dewey classification system. Here are their answers! 

    Our Top Observations about the Dewey Decimal Classification System

    1. It’s designed for browsing.

    Melissa holding the book titled 1000 Tattoos, with a graphic of the call number 391.65
    Along with 391.65 -Tattooing / body art, 567.9 - Dinosaurs is one of Melissa’s favorite call numbers.

    Books and other materials are organized by subject, so if you’re looking for books about pets, visit the 636 section. If you’re looking for books about dogs, more specifically, go directly to 636.7. It you’re a cat person, your number is 636.8.

    Books about U.S. history are shelved under 973—but in some branches like ours, that section is very large, so it helps to get a specific number with a decimal to narrow down the subject area. For example, books about the Civil War are shelved under 973.7. Books about the Obama presidency are shelved under 973.932.

    You can search the Library catalog to find the call numbers you need or ask our staff for help. We do know some numbers off the top of our heads but, for others, we need to use the catalog, too. 

    Please remember that the branch libraries use the Dewey Decimal System, but the research libraries use the Billings System, which is not browsable in the same way. If you’d like to learn more about how books are shelved in the research collection, check out this blog post on Billings classifications.

    2. Items do not have unique call numbers.

    Since the call number indicates the subject of the book, multiple books can be shelved under the same number. If you are looking for The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell under 302 G (G for Gladwell), you might also find Social Problems by 19th century economist and philosopher Henry George, among other books.

    The South Beach Diet by Arthur Agatston is shelved under 613.25 A, but so are many other diet and nutrition books by authors whose last names begin with A.

    Cynthia holding up a book spine that reads "New York". A graphic has the call number 974.71
    Cynthia enjoys reading New York City history, shelved in 974.71.

    3. Call numbers are used across languages, ages, and media.

    If you’re looking for books about fitness, they’re shelved under 613.7. Fitness books in Spanish are also shelved under 613.7, as are fitness books in Russian, Chinese, and so on. 

    The call numbers in the library catalog and on the spines of the books indicate the language and the subject—SPA 613.7, CHI 613.7, etc.
    The same call numbers are used in the children, teen, and adult nonfiction collections, so if you’re looking for books about dinosaurs, look under J 567.9 in the children’s section and 567.9 in the adult and teen nonfiction sections. (Children’s call numbers all begin with J for Juvenile).

    We also use the same call numbers for nonfiction DVDs. So, if you want fitness DVDs, you'll look on the shelves under DVD 613.7, with yoga DVDs under 613.7046. If you want books about New York City history, visit 974.71, but guess where Ric Burns’s documentary series about New York City is shelved? Yes, it’s under DVD 974.71 N (N for New York, the first word in the title.)

    How do the numbers work?

    Armand holding the book, Popular Mechanics Complete How-To, with a graphic of the call number 643.7
    643.7 - Home maintenance is one of Armand's favorite sectiions. He also browses computer books in 004 -006.

    There are ten main Dewey classes or “centuries.”

    000 Computer science, information & general works
    100 Philosophy & psychology
    200 Religion
    300 Social sciences
    400 Language
    500 Science
    600 Technology
    700 Arts & recreation
    800 Literature
    900 History & geography

    And then each main class is divided into 10 sections or hundred divisions. Let’s look at the 600 class as an example:

    Charlene holding up the cooking book Instantly Southern, with a graphic of the call number 641.5
    Charlene likes to find interesting new recipes in 641.5 - Cookbooks.

    600 Technology
    610 Medicine & health
    620 Engineering
    630 Agriculture
    640 Home & family management
    650 Management & public relations
    660 Chemical engineering
    670 Manufacturing
    680 Manufacture for specific uses
    690 Construction of buildings

    These hundred divisions are further subdivided into one thousand sections, which can be made even more specific with the addition of decimal points. For example, in the 640 section, Home & family management, you’ll find cookbooks - 641.5 (Charlene’s favorite) and Armand’s favorite, Home maintenance - 643.7; plus, books about sewing in 646.2, housekeeping (such as Marie Kondo’s blockbuster, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up) in 648, and childcare in 649.1.

    The Dewey Decimal System has been revised many times since its introduction in 1876, and the current edition is the 23rd. Generations of catalogers have worked, and continue to work, to make the classifications and the subject heading language better reflect our evolving society.

    What's in a number? Here are more of our Dewey Decimal favorites!


    Jessica holding up a Miss Manners book, with a graphic of the call number 395.22.


    Jessica has always found it cute and charming that, in January, so much of the 395.22 section (wedding planning) is checked out of the Library because so many people get engaged over the holidays. 

    It’s one example of how the Library is there for you at all stages of life with the resources you need.


    Armand wearing a conductor's cap and holding up a railroad book, with a graphic of the call number 385.


    In addition to 643.7 - Home maintenance and 004-006 - Computers, Armand really likes 385 - Railroad transportation.

    Melissa (pictured above) also chose several numbers. Beyond 391.65, where you find body art and tattooing, and dinosaurs in 567.9, Melissa fondly remembers 650.14 (job seeking, resumes) as the first call number she was able to give to a library user without having to look it up.


    Ricci kneeling near bookshelves, with a graphic for the call number 398.2.


    Ricci picks 398.2 - Fairytales and folktales. We took this photo in the Children’s Room, where there’s a fantastic collection for kids… but keep in mind that we’ve got a huge folklore section for adults, too.





    Several librarians looked to the 700 class for inspiration (Arts & Recreation). Lauren likes 746.46 - Quilting, with books on knitting and crocheting nearby in 746.43.

    It wasn’t easy for Laura to choose just one section in the art collection, but the 759.972 section, where Latin American painters like Frida Kahlo (759.972 Kalh) and Wifredo Lam (759.9729 Lam) are shelved, really speaks to her.

    Lauren holding up a quilting book near an area with the sign Craft Corner, plus a graphic of the call number 746.46.
    Lauren likes quilting, shelved in 746.46.
    Laura pointing to a Wifredo Lam book, with a graphic of the call number 759.972.
    Laura finds inspiration in 759.972 - Latin American painting. 

    Arieh, our photography maven, chose the 770 range - Photography, where he can find books on photographic equipment and techniques in 770 - 778 and works by photographers in 779. Liz recommends checking out 796.6 - Cycling to find bike books.  

    Arieh pointing his camera at a row of photography books, with a graphic of the call number 770.
    Photography maven Arieh hanging out in the 770s
    Liz holding up two cycling books, with a graphic of the call number 796.6.
    Liz  has two favorites: Cycling in 796.6 and American poetry in 811.

    It’s not surprising that many librarians chose numbers in the 800 class - Literature. In addition to bikes (796.6), Liz is a big fan of 811 - American poetry. Andrew chose 822.33 - Shakespeare, who has his own special subdivision of drama of the Elizabethan period, 1558-1625, and Emily chose a specific Shakespeare section for The Sonnets 822.33-Y7.

    Andrew holding up a book on Shakespeare, and a graphic with the call number 822.33.
    Andrew appreciates that Shakespeare has his very own call number - 822.33.
    Emily holding up a book of Shakespeare's poems, and a graphic of the call number 822.33-y7.
    Emily picks 822.33-Y7  - Shakespeare's sonnets.

    Wilsa’s favorite call number is 809 - History, description, critical appraisal of more than two literatures. It's a broad section but the main focus is on the written word or world literature, which she loves. 

    Vilma posing near books on Spanish literature, and a graphic of the call number SPA 861-868.
    Vilma loves Spanish literature: 861 - 868.

    Vilma loves the 860s - Spanish literature. Look for Neruda’s love poems in 861 Neruda, Lorca’s plays in 862 Lorca, books about Don Quixote under 863 Cervantes, and anthologies of Spanish literature under 868.

    Mr. Chang holding up a book with the title Chines Book Discussion, and a graphic of the call number 895.11 951.
    Mr. Chang enjoys reading  895.11 - Chinese poetry and 951 - Chinese history. 

    Mr. Chang is a fan of 895.11 - Chinese poetry. Remember how call numbers are used across languages? If you want to find translations of Spanish or Chinese poetry in English, look under 861 or 895.11 in the English nonfiction shelves. To find Spanish or Chinese poetry in the original language, look in the World Languages collection under SPA 861 or CHI 895.11.

    Several of our librarians like to spend time in the 900s - History. In addition to Chinese literature, Mr Chang likes the 951 section - Chinese history. And Cynthia is not alone in loving the New York City history section in 974.71. It’s popular with readers and staff alike.

    Travel books are also shelved in the 900s. Moriba likes to explore books and DVDs in 914 - 919.  She also recommends stopping by the 400s for some language-learning materials before a trip. Marianna thinks the 941.084 section, officially known as Great Britain- History- 1936-1945, is an interesting one. "This is where you would send a Winston Churchill devotee, who has read the the bios in Claudine's section," Marianna explains. "This man has his own call number in the history section, and he deserves it."

    Moriba looking at travel books, with a graphic of the call number 914-919.
    Moriba likes to explore 914-919 - Travel.
    A hand holding up the peace sign next to a book on Winston Churchill, and a graphic with the call number 941.084.
    Marianna votes for 941.084, where she finds books  on Winston Churchill.


    Claudine posing near bookshelves, with a graphic of the letter B.
    Claudine finds life lessons under B - Biography.

    Claudine choosesB for Biographies. She thinks that reading about an individual’s life can bring things into perspective and provide valuable, even essential, life lessons—more than those found in many self-help books.

    Why just a "B"? We don't usually assign decimal numbers to biographies and memoirs of individuals. Instead, they're shelved under B with the subject's last name and the first letter of the author's last name.

    So, for example, you can look for Becoming by Michelle Obama under B Obama O. (But don't look for a while since there are more than 2,000 holds for the book right now!) 



    Thanks to the staff at Mid-Manhattan who posed with, and shared, their favorite Dewey numbers!

    What’s your number? Tell us in the comments section below.


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    shirley jackson

    A master of Gothic mystery and horror, Shirley Jackson’s novels and short stories still resonate with readers more than fifty years after her death, due in part to her uncanny ability to pierce the outward polite facade of her characters to reveal the true, terrifying side of humanity that lurks underneath. Generations of readers have been left speechless and spellbound by the horror and tragedy of The Haunting of Hill House, one of the greatest ghost stories ever written. Her short story “The Lottery” has remained a staple of short story anthologies since it was first published in 1948, and it is probably the most well-known American short story of the 20th century. Today we look back on her life and her successes in honor of her birthday.

    Shirley Hardie Jackson was born December 14, 1916 in San Francisco, California. In 1937, she attended Syracuse University where she published her first short story, “Janice,” and became an editor for a campus magazine. It was while attending Syracuse that she met, fell in love with, and eventually married Stanley Edgar Hyman, a fellow student who would eventually become a literary critic and professor at Bennington College. She remained on the East Coast for the rest of her life, eventually settling in North Bennington, Vermont with her husband and family. The couple became well-known for their cocktail parties which were often frequented by the great literary masters of their time such as Ralph Ellison. 
    haunting of hill house

    Jackson steadfastly pursued her writing while simultaneously balancing her role as wife and mother to four children., publishing her first novel, The Road Through the Wall in 1948. Her two memoirs, Life Among the Savages(1953) and Raising Devils(1957), detail her family life and offer a rare glimpse into the mundane, every-day reality of one of the greatest horror writers of all time. Her short stories were frequently featured in literary magazines such as the New Yorker, and her work has often been adapted for both the stage and screen. The Haunting of Hill Housewas published in 1959 and has since been adapted twice for film, asThe Haunting (1963) and The Haunting (1999), twice for the stage, and most recently as the basis of a Netflix original series.

    Many of her short stories gained national recognition for their unflinching presentation of slow-mounting, psychological and/or spiritual terror such as “Come Dance with Me in Ireland” which won the Best American Short Stories award in 1944, and “The Lottery,” which won the O. Henry Prize Stories award in 1949. In 1961, Jackson won the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Short Story for "Louisa, Please Come Home". Time Magazine included We Have Always Lived in the Castle in their list of Ten Best Novels of the year for 1962.
    On August 8, 1965, Jackson died of heart failure in her home at the age of 48. At the time of her death, she had written six novels, two memoirs, and over 200 short stories with two novels left unfinished. Her undisputed status as one of the greatest female horror writers of all time, as well as, her influence on future masters of horror, such as Stephen King and Richard Matheson, cannot be understated or underappreciated. In 2007, the annual Shirley Jackson Awards were "established for outstanding achievement in the literature of horror, the dark fantastic, and psychological suspense."
    Today we honor her birthday by bringing a list of recommended reading guaranteed to thrill new and veteran fans of her work!


    Road through the wall

    The Road Through the Wall (1948)

    Everyone knew the residents of Pepper Street were "nice" people—especially the residents themselves. Among the self-satisfied group were: Mrs. Merriam, the sanctimonious shrew who was turning her husband into a nonentity and her daughter into a bigoted spinster; Mr. Roberts, who found relief from the street's unending propriety in shoddy side-street amours; Miss Fielding, who considered it more important to boil an egg properly than to save a disturbed girl from destruction. It took the gruesome act of a desperate boy who lived among them to pierce the shell of their complacency and force them to see their own ugliness.



    Hangsaman (1951)

    Seventeen-year-old Natalie Waite longs to escape home for college. Her father is a domineering and egotistical writer who keeps a tight rein on Natalie and her long-suffering mother. When Natalie finally does get away, however, college life doesn’t bring the happiness she expected. Little by little, Natalie is no longer certain of anything—even where reality ends and her dark imaginings begin. Chilling and suspenseful, Hangsaman is loosely based on the real-life disappearance of a Bennington College sophomore in 1946.

    birds nest

    The Bird's Nest (1954)

    Elizabeth is a demure twenty-three-year-old whiling her life away at a dull museum job, living with her neurotic aunt, and subsisting off her dead mother's inheritance. When Elizabeth begins to suffer terrible migraines and backaches, her aunt takes her to the doctor, then to a psychiatrist. But slowly, and with Jackson's characteristic chill, we learn that Elizabeth is not just one girl—but four separate, self-destructive personalities.

    The sundial

    The Sundial (1958)

    When the Halloran clan gathers at the family home for a funeral, no one is surprised when the somewhat peculiar Aunt Fanny wanders off into the secret garden. But then she returns to report an astonishing vision of an apocalypse from which only the Hallorans and their hangers-on will be spared, and the family finds itself engulfed in growing madness, fear, and violence as they prepare for a terrible new world.

    haunting of hill house

    The Haunting of Hill House (1959)

    First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a "haunting"; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

    Two sisters, Merricat and Constance Blackwood, live in a mansion that is, at times, compared to a castle. Merricat might be a witch while the unwanted visitor to their house, Charles, may or may not be a ghost or a demon.  
    Meanwhile, most of the villagers hate and fear the two sisters, who have been living in seclusion with their ailing uncle ever since a poisoned sugar bowl killed the rest of the Blackwood family.


    Graphic Novels

    In a graphic-novel adaptation of the classic spine-tingler, the grandson of the story's original author depicts the eerie town and their shocking ritual in detailed four-color panels that breathe new life into the iconic tale.



    Short Story Collections 

    Dark tales

    Dark Tales by Shirley Jackson; foreword by Ottessa Moshfegh

    For the first time in one volume, a collection of Shirley Jackson's scariest stories, with a foreword by PEN/Hemingway Award winner Ottessa Moshfegh.
    After the publication of her short story "The Lottery" in the New Yorker in 1948 received an unprecedented amount of attention, Shirley Jackson was quickly established as a master horror storyteller. This collection of classic and newly reprinted stories provides readers with more of her unsettling, dark tales, including the "The Possibility of Evil" and "The Summer People."
    In these deliciously dark stories, the daily commute turns into a nightmarish game of hide and seek, the loving wife hides homicidal thoughts and the concerned citizen might just be an infamous serial killer. In the haunting world of Shirley Jackson, nothing is as it seems and nowhere is safe, from the city streets to the crumbling country pile, and from the small-town apartment to the dark, dark woods. There's something sinister in suburbia. 
    let me tell you

    Let Me Tell You : New Stories, Essays, and Other Writings by Shirley Jackson; edited by Laurence Jackson Hyman and Sarah Hyman DeWitt; foreword by Ruth Franklin

    As we approach the centenary of [Jackson's] birth comes this astonishing compilation of fifty-six pieces—more than forty of which have never been published before. Two of Jackson's children co-edited this volume, culling through the vast archives of their mothers paper's at the Library of Congress, selecting only the very best for inclusion.

    lottery and other stories

    The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

    The Lottery and Other Stories, the only one to appear during Shirley Jackson's lifetime, unites "The Lottery" with twenty-four equally unusual short stories. Together they demonstrate Jackson's remarkable range—from the hilarious to the horrible, the unsettling to the ominous—and her power as a storyteller.

    come along with me

    Come Along with Me : Classic Short Stories and an Unfinished Novel by Shirley Jackson; edited by Stanley Edgar Hyman; foreword by Laura Miller

    In her gothic visions of small-town America, Jackson, the author of such masterworks as The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, turns an ordinary world into a supernatural nightmare. This eclectic collection goes beyond her horror writing, revealing the full spectrum of her literary genius. In addition to Come Along with Me, Jackson's unfinished novel about the quirky inner life of a lonely widow, it features sixteen short stories and three lectures she delivered during her last years.

    life among the savages

    Life Among the Savages (1953) by Shirley Jackson

    In a hilariously charming domestic memoir, America's celebrated master of terror turns to a different kind of fright: raising children. In her celebrated fiction, Shirley Jackson explored the darkness lurking beneath the surface of small-town America. But in Life Among the Savages, she takes on the lighter side of small-town life.
    In this witty and warm memoir of her family's life in rural Vermont, she delightfully exposes a domestic side in cheerful contrast to her quietly terrifying fiction. With a novelist's gift for character, an unfailing maternal instinct, and her signature humor, Jackson turns everyday family experiences into brilliant adventures.
    raising demons

    Raising Demons (1957)

    In the sequel to Life Among the Savages, Shirley Jackson's four children have grown from savages into full-fledged demons. The clan moves into a larger home, and the chaos moves with them. A confrontation with the IRS, Little League, trumpet lessons, and enough clutter to bury her alive—Shirley spins them all into a reminder that every bit as thrilling as a murderous family in a haunted house is a happy family in a new home.


    shirley jackson

    Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin

    This long-awaited biography establishes Shirley Jackson as a towering figure in American literature and revives the life and work of a neglected master. Still known to millions only as the author of the "The Lottery," Shirley Jackson (1916-1965) remains curiously absent from the American literary canon. A genius of literary suspense, Jackson plumbed the cultural anxiety of postwar America better than anyone. Now, biographer Ruth Franklin reveals the tumultuous life and inner darkness of the author behind such classics as The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle. 

    Placing Jackson within an American Gothic tradition of Hawthorne and Poe, Franklin demonstrates how her unique contribution to this genre came from her focus on "domestic horror" drawn from an era hostile to women. Based on a wealth of previously undiscovered correspondence and dozens of new interviews, Shirley Jackson, with its exploration of astonishing talent shaped by a damaged childhood and a troubled marriage to literary critic Stanley Hyman, becomes the definitive biography of a generational avatar and an American literary giant.

    Literary Criticism

    shirley jacksons american gothic

    Shirley Jackson's American Gothicby Darryl Hattenhauer

    Best known for her short story "The Lottery" and her novel The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson produced a body of work that is more varied and complex than critics have realized. In fact, as Darryl Hattenhauer argues here, Jackson was one of the few writers to anticipate the transition from modernism to postmodernism, and therefore ranks among the most significant writers of her time.

    The first comprehensive study of all of Jackson's fiction, Shirley Jackson's American Gothic offers readers the chance not only to rediscover her work, but also to see how and why a major American writer was passed over for inclusion in the canon of American literature. 


    Movie Adaptations

    the haunting

    The Haunting (1963)

    Based on the novel The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

    Dr. John Markway, an anthropologist with an interest in psychic phenomena, takes two specially selected women to Hill House, a reportedly haunted mansion. Eleanor (Julie Harris), a lonely, eccentric woman with a supernatural event in her past, and the bold Theodora (Claire Bloom), who has ESP, join John and the mansion's heir, cynical Luke (Russ Tamblyn). They are immediately overwhelmed by strange sounds and events, and Eleanor comes to believe the house is alive and speaking directly to her.

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    Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts

    Alma Guillermoprieto delivering her lecture
    Photo: Sarah Stacke

    Award-winning journalist Alma Guillermoprieto delivered this year's annual Robert B. Silvers lecture, a series named in honor of the co-founding editor of The New York Review of Books. In her lecture titled  “Among the Drug Dealers, Criminals, Rapists: A Reporting Life in Latin America,” Guillermoprieto shares insights from her 40 years of experience. Born in Mexico, Guillermoprieto came to New York in 1965 to join the Martha Graham dance studio. By the late 1970s, she had left dance to cover the Central American civil wars as a journalist. Since then she has written extensively about Latin America for The New YorkerThe New York Review of Books, and National Geographic

    Click here to find out how to subscribe and listen to the Library Talks podcast.

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  • 12/17/18--04:00: NYPL Top Checkouts of 2018
  • NYPL Top Checkouts 2018

    Jennifer Egan’s historical novel set in New York City topped the Library’s annual top checkouts list, which includes books and e-books from the Library’s collections. The New York Public Library—which includes 92 locations in The Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island—has about 20 million checkouts per year. When Egan found out she graciuosly said: 

    The NYPL system was essential to my research, and it’s incredibly gratifying to think that Manhattan Beach gave something back in return. Manhattan Beach grew straight out of my love for New York—my adopted home—and involved years of research into the city's wartime shipbuilding, deep sea diving, and criminal activity. The book takes place in all five boroughs, and I can’t fathom a greater honor than to have had it embraced by New Yorkers at public libraries throughout the city!”  

    The list of our top checkouts is always a fascinating look at the diversity of the city, and at what books resonate with the most people. Here is the systemwide top 10 as well as top 10 for each of the boroughs we serve. 

    Top 10 Books Systemwide

    1. ​​Manhattan Beachby Jennifer Egan

    2. Origin: A Novel by Dan Brown

    3. The Handmaid's Taleby Margaret Atwood

    4. Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novelby Jesmyn Ward

    5. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff

    6. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

    7. A Gentleman in Moscowby Amor Towles

    8. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisisby​ ​J. D. Vance

    9. The Underground Railroad: A Novelby Colson Whitehead

    10. Exit West: A Novelby Mohsin Hamid 


    Top 10 Books in the Bronx

    1. Origin: A Novelby Dan Brown

    2. TASC: Test Assessing Secondary Completion: Strategies, Practice, & Review, 2017-2018 by Kaplan

    3. The Handmaid's Taleby Margaret Atwood

    4. The People vs. Alex Cross by James Patterson

    5. Red Alertby Marshall Karp and James Patterson

    6. The 17th Suspect by James Patterson

    7. Haunted by James O. Born and James Patterson

    8. Manhattan Beachby Jennifer Egan

    9. Count to Tenby ​James Patterson and Ashwin Sanghi

    10. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff


    Top 10 Books in Manhattan

    1. Manhattan Beachby Jennifer Egan

    2. The Handmaid's Taleby Margaret Atwood

    3. Origin: A Novel by Dan Brown

    4. Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

    5. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff

    6. Exit West: A Novelby Mohsin Hamid 

    7. Little Fires Everywhereby Celeste Ng

    8. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisisby​ ​J. D. Vance

    9. Pachinkoby Min Jin Lee

    10. The Underground Railroad: A Novelby Colson Whitehead


    Top 10 Books in Staten Island

    1. Fifty Fifty by Candice Fox and James Patterson

    2. Origin: A Novelby Dan Brown

    3. The People vs. Alex Cross by James Patterson

    4. Haunted by James O. Born and James Patterson

    5. Past Perfectby Danielle Steel

    6. Fairytale by Danielle Steel

    7. The 17th Suspect by James Patterson

    8. Every Breath You Take by Alafair Burke and Mary Higgins Clark

    9. End Game: Book 5 by David Baldacci 

    10. The Fallen by David Baldacci


    Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

    Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!


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    Covers for six Spanish-language books, surrounded by a red border

    Una breve lista selectiva de libros recientes para celebrar la Navidad con temas de romance y mucho más a tu alcance. Lista en PDF.


    Steel, Danielle



    Ginny Carter, una periodista famosa y ama de casa orgullosa, sufre una tragedia días antes de Navidad, pero una inesperada amistad le ofrece nuevas esperanzas.


    Como dos extraños

    Kleypas, Lisa



    Ethan Ramson, ex detective de Scotland Yard y un galante reservado se encuentra con la doctora Garrett Gibson, la única doctora en toda Inglaterra y una mujer atrevida e independiente y permanecen juntos una larga noche ¿Pero seguirán siendo dos extraños?


    Noches de invierno

    Gary, Codi



    Allie Fairchild siente que cometió un error al mudarse a Montana, hasta que de repente su vida da un giro sorprendente.


    Promesa audaz

    Deveraux, Jude



    Todos esperaban felizmente la boda entre Judith y Gavin, ¿pero qué tan afortunados se sentían los novios?


    La obra maestra

    Rivers, Francine



    Grace Moore lucha por hacerse un hogar para ella y su bebe y  acepta un puesto como asistente personal de un artista exitoso pero temperamental.


    Tú, yo, todo

    Isaac, Catherine



    Después de varios años de separación con el padre de su hijo, Laura trata de reencontrar a ambos, mientras lucha con su enfermedad y el tormento de un terrible secreto que nadie deber saber.


    Algunas de estas obras también pueden estar disponibles en diferentes formatos. Para más información, sírvase comunicarse con el bibliotecario de su biblioteca local. Para información sobre eventos, favor de visitar: Eventos en Español. Más Blog en EspañolSíganos por ¡Twitter

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    Five covers of Chinese-language books, surrounded by a green frame

     该列表有PDF格式 - The list is available in PDF format.

    Title: 三国机密. 龙难日

    Author: 马伯庸

    ISBN: 9787540483388

    Call No. CHI FIC MA




    Title: 一号伪装者

    Author: 徐品

    ISBN: 9787515514734

    Call No.  CHI FIC XU



    Title: 離不開的才算愛

    Author: 月亮熊,

    ISBN: 9789571078397






    Title: 艳遇

    Author: 章艳

    ISBN: 9787535498403

    Call No.  791.4509 ZHANG, YAN



    Title: 武士的女兒 : 少女們的明治維新之旅

    Author: 著 ; 鄭佩嵐 譯

    ISBN: 9789863445302

    Call No.  CHI 920.72 NIMURA, JAN




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    Covers of Russian-language books

    Cписок доступен в формате PDF - The list is available in PDF format. 


    Title: Провинциальная философия

    Author: Харитонов, Марк.

    ISBN: 9785969116528



    Трилогия Марка Харитонова (р. 1937) 'Провинциальная философия' впервые издается на русском языке одной книгой. В нее входят романы 'Прохор Меньшутин' (1971, опубликован в 1988), 'Провинциальная философия' (1977, опубликован в 1993), 'Линии судьбы, или Сундучок Милашевича' (1980-1985, премия 'Русский Букер', 1992). Все три книги связаны общими персонажами, общим местом действия, провинциальными городками Нечайск и Столбенец, общим продолжающимся сюжетом, 'тихим, но могучим дыханием неутолимой страсти' (Андрей Немзер).



    Title: Нет

    Author: Кузнецов, Сергей

    ISBN: 9785171060671




    Сборник рассказов разных авторов, собранных создателем уникальной Вселенной Ехо Максом Фраем.


    Title: 1111 вкусных блюд

    Author: Шницель, Я. М.

    ISBN: 9785040901104

    Call #: RUS 641.5947 S


    'Друзья мои', - так начинается чудесная энциклопедия домашней кухни. Эти слова располагают, заставляют листать дальше, аккуратно погружая в мир вкусной еды. Необычайно выстроенная книга. Последовательно предложены все виды блюд: От закусок - холодных и горячих, которые в свою очередь также поделены на овощные, мясные и рыбные;Супов - теперь уже горячих и холодных, разделенных на бульоны, заправленные сметаной, прозрачные, супы-пюре и сладкие;Вторых блюд - рыбных (по видам), мясных (включая дичь и субпродукты), из птицы (включая потроха и дикую птицу), овощных (по видам), мучных, из круп;До Сладких блюд, Выпечки и Соусов.И совершенно необходимые разделы, такие ка Диетическое и Детское питание, питание беременных женщин.



    Title: Оттенки русского : очерки отечественного кино

    Author: Долин, Антон

    ISBN: 9785179832461

    Call #: RUS 791.4309 D



    Антон Долин – журналист, радиоведущий, кинообозреватель в телепрограмме 'Вечерний Ургант' и главный редактор самого авторитетного издания о кинематографе 'Искусство кино'. В книге 'Оттенки русского' самый, пожалуй, востребованный и влиятельный кинокритик страны собрал свои наблюдения за отечественным кино последних лет.



    Title: Дорогой длинною...

    Author: Вертинский, Александр.

    ISBN: 9785170980864



    А. Н. Вертинский – 'поэт, странно поющий свои стихи…', заложивший основу авторской песни в нашей стране, композитор, артист. Его жизнь насыщена событиями, приключениями, скандалами, встречами и дружбой с незаурядными людьми.Для истинных ценителей мемуарной литературы и стихов А. Н. Вертинского эта книга – настоящий подарок. В книгу вошли воспоминания, стихи и песни, короткие рассказы, этюды, зарисовки, беседы, интервью, напечатанные в разные годы в различных эмигрантских газетах и журналах, а также письма А. Н. Вертинского разным лицам, жене и дочерям. Source:


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    Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts

    Charles Dickens Neil Gaiman

    To celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Dickens' classic—and to keep the holiday tradition alive—we're sharing  this very special reading of “A Christmas Carol” by novelist,  and comic book creator, Neil Gaiman, that happened at NYPL in 2013. Gaiman delivered a performance worthy of Dickens himself—who was by all accounts a sensational performer of his own material—all while transformed into a Dickens lookalike at the hands of makeup artist Jeni Ahlfeld. What made Gaiman’s reading particularly special was that the text he use is an extremely rare version of "A Christmas Carol," which just so happens to call The New York Public Library its home.

    Charles Dickens reading
    Dickens reading in the final months of his life.

    It’s called a prompt copy. It’s a version marked up and annotated for the very purpose of reading the story aloud, and the copy we have is Dickens’ own. Dickens’ performances of his works date to the early 1850s, when he was already quite successful, and lasted up until the final months of his life in 1870. He toured England, Ireland, Scotland, played in Paris, and even brought the show to the States. His last American performance was in New York City, at Steinway Hall, in 1868. Dickens had acted in the theater throughout much of his life, even into his career as a prominent writer, and brought that training and experience to his readings. He’d appear on stage illuminated by gaslamps and would stand at a reading desk he had specially made for his appearances. Though he had the book for reference, it was also said he memorized the work as if acting in the theater. As the notes and stage directions in the prompt copy indicate, Dickens actually acted these stories. One critic wrote at the time that his ability to inhabit each character was, “completely assumed and individualised…as though he was personating it in costume on the stage.”

    The New York Public Library has more 1,200 items in its collection of Dickens material, much of it in the Berg Collection. It includes manuscripts, letters, diaries, portraits, and a letter opener fashioned from the paw of Dickens’ deceased cat Bob. You can look see most of the incredible material by visiting our digital collections.

    Neil Gaiman Christmas Carol

    Click here to find out how to subscribe and listen to the Library Talks podcast.

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    A Christmas Carol Insta Novel cover

    To celebrate the 175th anniversary of the book's publication, The New York Public Library released a surprise edition of Insta Novels: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This version of the holiday classic was illustrated by Caitlin McCarthy ( and is available to read on the Library's Instagram account (@nypl). NYPL has also rebroadcast one of its most popular podcast episodes featuring Neil Gaiman reading from Charles Dickens's own prompt copy of A Christmas Carol.

    Insta Novels reimagine Instagram's Stories feature as a new platform for some of the most iconic stories ever written. The Library first launched Insta Novels in August 2018 with a digital version of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, illustrated by Magoz (@magoz). In October, the Library released Charlotte Perkins Gilman's short story "The Yellow Wallpaper," illustrated by Buck (@buck_design), on its Instagram account. On Halloween, NYPL released Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" at midnight, illustrated by Studio Aka (@studioaka). Most recently, the Library released Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis , illustrated by Pelizer César (@cesarpelizer), in early December. The program, created by independent advertising and creative agency Mother in New York and developed in partnership with the Library, aims to make these stories more widely available, reach new audiences, and turn a space for fleeting interactions into one for immersive reading.

    Insta Novels covers

    How to Read A Christmas Carol on Instagram

    First, go to the Library's Instagram account (@nypl) and tap "Carol PT 1" in the highlights section, right under the bio.

    Rest your thumb on lower right part of the screen to hold the page, and lift your thumb to turn the page. (The lower right thumb holder is designed to double as a flip book: if you lift your thumb and let the pages flip, you'll see an animation.)

    Did you miss the previous Insta Novels of The Metamorphosis, "The Raven," Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, or "The Yellow Wallpaper?" You can still read these Insta Novel editions by locating them on our virtual bookshelf in the highlights section of the Library's Instagram account (@nypl).

    If you don't have Instagram or want to explore other ways to read A Christmas Carol this holiday season, there are other ways to enjoy the story. Check out Neil Gaiman reading the novella on the Library Talks podcast, find a version formatted in your preferred reading method below, or visit a special Charles Dickens display at the Library's Stephen A. Schwarzman Building in Midtown.

    Listen to Neil Gaiman Read A Christmas Carol on Library Talks

    Charles Dickens prompt copy and Neil Gaiman
    Charles Dickens's prompt copy and Neil Gaiman

    For the last five years, the Library has celebrated its own holiday tradition of listening to novelist and comic book creator Neil Gaiman read A Christmas Carol. In 2013, Gaiman transformed into Charles Dickens with the help of a costume and makeup, and read from a rare edition—Dickens's very own prompt copy—of the novella. Listen to our Library Talks podcast to hear Gaiman bring Dickens's words to life.

    Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts

    Visit the instruction page for direction on how to listen to the Library Talks podcast.

    Explore more on Charles Dickens with NYPL

    The New York Public Library holds more than 1,200 items of Dickens material in its collections, much of it in the Berg Collection of English and American Literature. The collections include manuscripts, letters, diaries, portraits, his writing desk, and a letter opener fashioned from the paw of Dickens's deceased cat Bob. You can view many of these incredible items by visiting our digital collections.

    If you are in New York City through January 7, 2019, you can view some of our Dickens items in a special display at our 42nd Street location. Items on display include heavily annotated prompt copies—which he used in his readings—of A Christmas CaroI and other holiday books, including The Chimes and The Cricket on the Hearth, original photographs, and more.

    Read More on SimplyE from The New York Public Library

    All stories that appear as Insta Novels are also available on SimplyE, The New York Public Library's free e-reader app, available on the App Store or Google Play.

    Anyone can browse classic titles, including "The Raven," The Metamorphosis, "The Yellow Wallpaper," Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and A Christmas Carol in the SimplyE Collection in the app. Those eligible for library cards from The New York Public Library can also access 300,000+ e-books, from bestellers to classics, by connecting to NYPL in the app.

    Other Ways to Read the Stories

    There are many ways to read or listen to A Christmas Carol, The Metamorphosis, "The Yellow Wallpaper," "The Raven," and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Anyone can access the full text of the stories on the Project Gutenberg website. NYPL cardholders can check out the books and audiobooks via the NYPL catalog. Also, you can find many of the stories by searching the online catalog of NYPL's Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library.

    What to Read after A Christmas Carol

    If you like A Christmas Carol,  you may enjoy these haunting holiday tales.

    The Haunted Tea-cosy: A Dispirited and Distasteful Diversion for Christmas by Edward Gorey
    Provides an off-beat look at Christmas and the holiday season in a new version of Dickens's classic A Christmas Carol.

    A Christmas Caroline by Kyle Smith 
    Every day is like Christmas for Caroline, a young blond editor at Presents. On Christmas Eve, the ghost of Caroline's roommate, Carly, returns to warn that three more spirits are coming. 

    A sequel to A Christmas Carol set twenty years after Scrooge's famous reformation finds him teaming up with a returning cast of ghosts to help the restless spirit of Jacob Marley.

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    Etta Madden is Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in English at Missouri State University. She received a New York Public Library Short-Term Fellowship in support of a book project that illuminates the political activism, personal transformations, and diversity of 19th century American women in Italy. In addition to Caroline Crane Marsh (1816-1901), the book examines New Yorker Emily Bliss Gould (1822-75), who established an industrial school and orphanage in Rome, and Philadelphian Anne Hampton Brewster (1819-92), a newspaper correspondent.

    An Affluent Orbit

    Mrs. Astor calling card, circa 1868-1871
    Mrs. Astor calling card, c. 1868-1871; Crane family papers, NYPL Manuscripts and Archives Division

    In early winter of 1870, wealthy New York philanthropist Mrs. Augusta John J. Astor scribbled a note on a calling card she left at the home of Caroline Crane Marsh. The embossed calling card, among the vast Crane family papers in the Library's Manuscripts and Archives Division, reminds us of one method of communication in the days before electronic social media.

    This day, Astor gladly noted that she was taking her "first drive" after an illness and had "stopped by" Marsh’s door in passing, assuming it would give her friend "real pleasure to know" that Astor had "advanced from her convalescence." Astor likely left the card at the Villa Forini of Florence, where Caroline lived with her husband, George Perkins Marsh, then US Minister Plenipotentiary to the newly unified Kingdom of Italy.

    Portrait of Caroline Crane Marsh, with Firenze in text at the bottom  - box 12, Crane family papers, NYPL
    Portrait of Caroline Crane Marsh, Crane family papers, NYPL Manuscripts and Archives Division

    Astor was one among many Americans abroad who orbited Marsh in her position of ambasciatrice, or wife of the ambassador. Correspondence between "Mrs. Astor" and "Mrs. Marsh" would follow for more than a decade. Astor noted in 1879, for example, that she would contribute to one of Marsh’s activist causes—the orfontrofio, or orphanage and school associated with Italy ‘s "Free Church" movement, established in the 1860s.

    Marsh’s activism went beyond asking Astor for financial support. She garnered contributions from Anglos abroad, as well as from Americans at home. In New York, Cyrus W. Field, who famously completed the first transatlantic telegraph cable, wrote that he was enclosing funds and a list of subscribers to the cause, gathered by his wife.

    In a cumbersome path that marks the ways in which women’s work was often subjected to control by men, Field sent the collection through Marsh’s nephew, Alexander B. Crane. Another highly successful New York businessman and attorney, Crane then sent the money abroad to his "Uncle George" (as he is addressed in many letters of the collection), where it finally reached Marsh and her cause.

    Circuitous pathway of contributions, 1871-1873 - box 2, Crane family papers, NYPL
    The "circuitous pathway of contributions," 1871-1873 ; Crane family papers, NYPL Manuscripts and Archives Division

    These communications about a project supporting female education suggest only one reason for exploring documents associated with Marsh: Defying the label of "invalid," bestowed upon her because of the inability at times to walk and to see, Marsh was not only an activist but also a teacher, author and beloved “auntie”—well before her marriage to George in 1839 and continuing long after his death in 1882.

    Her multifaceted life comes to light through the more-than 500 letters to and from her within the Crane papers.

    "Dear Alick"… "Dear Auntie"

    A letter beginning with "Dear Alick" - box 2, Crane family papers, NYPL
    "Dear Alick"; Crane family papers, NYPL Manuscripts and Archives Division

    Many of the letters are from Alexander, or "Alick," as Marsh fondly referred to her successful nephew. More frequently than he addressed his uncle, Crane communicated with his "Dear Auntie," confiding in her and seeking advice about romantic relationships, career, and family life.

    Alick assisted his aunt with shipping the Marshes’ books to Italy, where they enhanced the Villa Forini library and supported the couple’s literary endeavors. Alick and his children would visit the Marshes not long before George’s death. Afterward, the supportive nephew would help the widowed Marsh with the books once again, as she arranged for the return and sale of the massive library (its home now is the University of Vermont).

    Finally, Marsh lived with Crane and his large family on his Scarsdale estate, Holmhurst, upon her return from Italy and up through her death in 1901.

    An Aspiring and Inspiring Author

    References to reading in the family letters reveal how Marsh was immersed in the literary world, even as she offered advice and guidance as a teaching aunt. They also point to her literary inclinations, as she not only wrote letters and kept journals but also wrote and translated poetry and prose.

    Handwritten letter from Gould and Lincoln to George Perkins Marsh
    Letter from Boston publishers Gould & Lincoln to George Perkins Marsh, explaining they have written to “Mrs. Marsh” stating that she should not “hesitate to complete” her translation of The Hallig, which they published in 1856. Crane family papers, NYPL Manuscripts and Archives Division

    Marsh’s correspondence with her husband—while she managed their home in Burlington, Vermont, and he was involved with political negotiations in Washington, DC—illustrate how the two encouraged each other. George supported Caroline’s two published translations, "The Hallig" (1856) and "The Wolfe of the Knoll and other Poems" (1859), coaching her through negotiations with Gould and Lincoln, her first publisher, and then Scribner’s. Caroline’s books caught the attention of both men and women, the correspondence indicates, with other authors looking to her for support and friendship.

    These mutually beneficial relationships lie at the heart of this project on Marsh, who today remains overshadowed by the better-known work of her husband, a co-founder of the Smithsonian Institution and an early conservationist, as well as a US ambassador for more than 25 years, first to Turkey and then to Italy.

    Marsh did much more than support her husband and his career. From her early years as a teacher in Vermont, and then in New York in Miss Martha Mitchell’s school in lower Manhattan in 1838, this insightful and sensitive woman read, wrote, and shared ideas in a way that inspired people of all ages, and across gendered and cultural boundaries. Her life, revisited today, should likewise be an inspiration to those who may deem themselves invalid because little-known but who engage those around them.

    Notes on the Crane Family Papers

    Aside from Caroline Crane Marsh’s work abroad, the Crane family papers contain information about a number of enduring research topics. Letters and journals contain contemporary commentary about romantic relationships, reading and readership, fashion and shopping, national crisis, mortality, births—and are all available for research.


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    One Cut book cover

    Felony murder. The law states that if a murder occurs during the commission of a felony (e.g. burglary), the offender's accomplices are also charged with murder. Therefore, the lookout and getaway car driver could face life in prison. Maybe they did not even see a gun or know that a murder would take place. Doesn't matter. (Exactly this scenario is depicted in Walter Dean Meyer's Monster.)

    How could an argument and fight between teen boys end up with one dead? Jason and Micah had a troubled childhood. As teens, they were sent by their mother to Mountain Park Baptist Boarding Academy, which was run by a  couple with a documented history of abusing children. Sure enough, the teens were beaten there. They were forbidden from having contact with their families for the first year and every interaction thereafter was monitored by staff. The abuse excuse? Perhaps, but such maltreatment could have been a precipitating factor of the murder.

    Treatment of the boys while they were awaiting trial was considerably less than humane. They were not given adequate showers and were forced to stand all day while waiting for their court sessions. The corrections officers taunted them, implying the boys were fresh meat for hardened convicts. Hardly the way we would hope that kids facing charges are treated, especially if we want a low recidivism rate and a lower incarceration rate in the United States.

    One Cut by Eve Porinchak, 2017

    Eve Porinchak's website
    Books on juvenile justice

    Different Days book cover

    Rosie and Freddie are German kids living in Oahu in December of 1941. Rosie helps her mother with the kindergarten that she runs in her humble abode, while Freddie plays soldiers with the boys, who are close in age to him; they love to play war games since they are in the midst of World War II.

    On December 7, 1941, Rosie's world comes tumbling down. She are her brother are forbidden from attending school. Then, her parents are detained by the United States government for questioning.

    Rosie calls her Aunt Yvonne and tells her about the situation. She sends her son, Rainer, to pick them up and bring them to live with her. Although her aunt's home is large and luxurious, the family distinctly feels the effects of wartime rationing. "Light meals," as her aunt calls them, leave Rosie longing for more food. Gasoline for vehicles, as well as a number of other items, are also limited by the government.

    Yvonne's rules are strict and hard to live with, so the young kids are relieved when their Aunt Etta comes to take them from Yvonne's. The challenges: they need to find a place to live, and Etta needs to find a job. Etta is a young woman herself, and caring for young kids who have recently lost their parents during wartime is never easy.

    Different Days by Vicki Berger Erwin, 2017

    I love this portrayal of Hawaii during World War II; it gives me a different perspective of this war than other WWII books.

    Vicki Berger Erwin's website
    Books about Pearl Harbor

    Whistling in the Dark book cover

    Teenager Joan is living in England in 1940, right in the midst of the British struggle to defeat the Nazis. Everyone is afraid of the invaders, and everyone must sacrifice. Food that Joan loves is no longer available or is extremely scarce. Bomb threats pervade her school and home. It is pretty much impossible to forget that the war is going on. One day, officials even knock on her front door searching for a military deserter. When will all of this upheaval ever end?

    The only solace Joan experiences is the familiarity and support of her loved ones. Her best friend, Doreen, and Derek and Ronnie, urge her to attend dances, for which she contemplates different dress choices. The possibility of dating a cute boy is encouraging to her. She also loves going to the movies with Doreen.

    When Joan's mum suggests she befriend the new Polish girl in her school, Joan hesitates. Ania is very quiet, and Joan does not relish the idea of spending time with her. However, after some awkward silent moments together, Ania finally spills open like a raging waterfall. She reveals every last word about her current predicament—how she lost her parents and what it is like to live with Miss Mellor. Suddenly, being friends with Ania is fascinating, and they explore their world in tandem. 

    Whistling in the Dark by Shirley Hughes, 2015

    I loved this British teenager perspective of the wartime effort.

    Books on World War II

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    Listen on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Google Podcasts.

    Aca-scuse me? It's an impromptu celebration of our favorite feel-good a capella movie... and, oh yeah, some book recommendations, too. Frank goes for a soul-searching memoir about spirituality and religion, and Gwen suggests a fantastical flipbook for kids.  

    pitch perfect

    Book Recommendations

    Books by Karen Armstrong:

    American Prison: A Reporter's Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment by Shane Bauer

    Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy

    Myth Matchby Good Wives and Warriors (and their website)

    myth match
    Myth match! Image via Geek Dad.

    Non-Book Recommendations

    Check out the Pitch PerfectDVDs and soundtracks from the Library!

    The Lovett or Leave It episode in which they discuss falling asleep on the couch — go to the last few minutes!


    How to listen to The Librarian Is In

    Subscribing to The Librarian Is In on your mobile device is the easiest way to make sure you never miss an episode. Episodes will automatically download to your device, and be ready for listening every other Thursday morning

    On your iPhone or iPad:
    Open the purple “Podcasts” app that’s preloaded on your phone. If you’re reading this on your device, tap this link to go straight to the show and click “Subscribe.” You can also tap the magnifying glass in the app and search for “The New York Public Library Podcast.”

    On your Android phone or tablet:
    Open the orange “Play Music” app that’s preloaded on your device. If you’re reading this on your device, click this link to go straight to the show and click “Subscribe.” You can also tap the magnifying glass icon and search for “The New York Public Library Podcast.” 

    Or if you have another preferred podcast player, you can find “The New York Public Library Podcast” there. (Here’s the RSS feed.)

    From a desktop or laptop:
    Click the “play” button above to start the show. Make sure to keep that window open on your browser if you’re doing other things, or else the audio will stop. You can always find the latest episode at

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    The public service staff at the New York Public Library's Manuscripts and Archives Division open the Brooke Russell Astor Reading Room to hundreds of researchers who arrive at NYPL in pursuit of primary sources. Nearly 20 linear feet of material from the Library's archival collections are delivered daily from the stacks to the reading room to ensure that advanced scholars and the curious all have equitable access to historic records from our shared past.

    Visiting researchers seek to discover new knowledge in recently acquired archives, and to check facts in oft-cited collections. Ultimately, the Library and its special collections are transformative sites where a wide range of learning flourishes.

    Through this year-end round up of books published in 2018 with citations to archival records held at the Library, we aspire to bring more attention to the work of researchers and scholars who make use of our awesome resources. Read on to hear from staff about some of the projects we were most excited to support from behind the scenes.

    The Indian World of George Washington book cover

    The Indian World of George Washington: First Americans, the First President, and the Birth of the Nation by Colin G. Calloway | New York, NY: Oxford University Press

    Documents contained in the papers of George Washington and Philip Schuyler, long preserved as part of the Library’s collection of historic manuscripts, have been incorporated into an essential new study of the Native American world present before the birth of the American republic. This book provides opportunity to learn more about the life of George Washington and the history and impact of European-Indian diplomacy that came to shape America’s founding. - Thomas G. Lannon

     A Memoir book cover

    Reporter: A Memoir by Seymour Hersh
    New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf

    Essentially a primary-source account of some of the biggest scoops in investigative journalism since the Vietnam era. That the author was able to do so much research at NYPL in the records of major dailies and weeklies, wherein his stories were first featured—including records of the New York Times and the New Yorker—only highlights the grave significance of archives as sources of truth in contested times. We are thankful Seymour Hersh was able to provide additional context for these records through this incredible memoir. - Thomas G. Lannon

    Damnation Island book cover

    Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York by Stacy Horn | Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill

    A paean to the poor souls who dwelled among the structures which served as the New York City Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island, (now Roosevelt Island, located in the East River between Manhattan and Queens), Damnation Island is an in-depth and readable work of history that could be read by both fans and students of New York City history. Making use of the Women’s Prison Association records, Horn’s findings are at times bleak, but ultimately prevail upon the reader a sense of recurring issues in institutions designed to care for the mentally ill, and incarcerated in the past and present. The book does great work to reconstruct lives of patients and doctors, reformers and alienists, to make an unsettling history more visible. -Thomas G. Lannon

     A History of New York City in Thirteen Miles book cover

    Broadway: A History of New York City in Thirteen Miles by Fran Leadon | New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company

    Fran Leadon’s account of the history of Broadway is thoroughly researched and engages the reader from the first page. Focusing on one of the most iconic stretches of road in New York, and known throughout the world, this book traces the social and physical changes of this famous street. Covering riots to suffrage parades, massive amounts of wealth to utter destitution, the author has done a marvelous job of showing the incredible history of Broadway. Using the George Kirwan Carr diary, the John Aspinwall Hadden diary, the John J. Sturtevant memoir, the Jeff Kisseloff oral history interviews, and material from the NYPL Rare Book Collection, the author has created an in-depth look at each mile that makes up one of the most famous roads in the world. -Cara Dellatte

    The Promise and the Dream book cover

    The Promise and the Dream: The Untold Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy by David Margolick
    New York, NY: Rosetta Books

    To mark the 50th anniversary of the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, David Margolick presents this dual biography of these significant political leaders, whose lives were tragically cut short. The book not only details the crucial events of 1968, but also provides context for Dr. King and RFK’s differing leadership in the civil rights movement. Interspersed throughout the narrative are quotes from journals from the Arthur M. Schlesinger papers. Schlesinger was there when King met with John F. Kennedy, and when Robert Kennedy decided to run against Lyndon Johnson in 1968. It is fascinating to see how Schlesinger’s journal helps tie together the world of Democratic politics during this monumental period. -Thomas G. Lannon

    The Most Dangerous Man in America book cover

    The Most Dangerous Man in America: Timothy Leary, Richard Nixon and the Hunt for the Fugitive King of LSD by Bill Minutaglio | New York, NY: Twelve

    Creating an accurate timeline of the various arrests, incarcerations, and escape acts in the life of Dr. Timothy Leary is difficult to achieve. This book brings readers closer to the tumultuous reality of Leary’s wide orbit as he came to represent the revolutionary zeal of an era in spite of Nixon’s rise to power after 1969. Researched in the Timothy Leary papers, the author’s presentation of actual facts in real time achieves a colorful, even crazed narrative few other nonfiction titles can deliver. -Thomas G. Lannon

    Fear City book cover

    Fear City: New York's Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of Austerity Politics by Kim Phillips-Fein | New York, NY: Metropolitan Books

    How does a large city recover from the brink of economic collapse Phillips-Fein investigated this question during her Cullman Center fellowship, as she traced New York’s 1970s economic crisis. Fear City roots the evergreen debate of austerity politics versus social liberalism in a narrative bolstered by the collections of more than 20 archival repositories throughout New York City. Here at NYPL, Phillips-Fein relied upon the institutional records of branch libraries Hunt’s Point and New Dorp, as well as library directors James W. Henderson and John Mackenzie Cory, to closely analyze the Library’s response to the fiscal downturn. - Meredith Mann

    On Press book cover

    On Press: The Liberal Values That Shaped the News by Matthew Pressman | Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press

    In a timely response to contemporary accusations of media bias and "fake news," Pressman looks to the watershed years of the 1960s and 1970s, when news outlets like the New York Times were reevaluating the needs and methodologies of responsible journalism, and the stigma of the "liberal media" first took shape. Pressman explored the inner workings of the Times through the letters and memos of its editors and reporters, including Abe Rosenthal, James Reston, and Tom Wicker. -Meredith Mann

    The Strange Case of Dr. Couney book cover

    The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands of American Babies by Dawn Raffel | New York, NY: Blue Rider Press

    Dawn Raffel relates the story of Dr. Martin A. Couney, the German-Jewish physician who advanced medical innovations in infant care in the early 20th century. Initially using public fairs, international exhibitions, and even the Coney Island boardwalk as his platform, Couney put working incubators for premature babies on display—all during a time when few hospitals had specialized nurseries. In 1939, Couney’s spectacle came to the Amusement Area of the New York World’s Fair. Raffel turned to documents held in the New York World's Fair 1939 and 1940 Incorporated records to add detail to this chapter in Couney’s efforts. -Tal Nadan

    Flannery O'Connor and Robert Giroux book cover

    Flannery O'Connor and Robert Giroux: A Publishing Partnership by Patrick Samway | Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press

    Along with Shirley Jackson and Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Connor is a central figure in Southern Gothic literature, known best for her short story "A Good Man is Hard to Find" and novel Wise Blood.  She was a client of publishers Farrar, Straus & Giroux from her second novel, The Violent Bear It Away, to her death in 1964, and Samway traces her development as an author, and the publication history of her work, through the letters of her editor Robert Giroux and her friend, the playwright Maryat Lee—all part of the Library’s Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. records. - Meredith Mann

    The Trials of Nina McCall book cover

    The Trials of Nina McCall: Sex, Surveillance, and the Decades-Long Government Plan to Imprison "Promiscuous" Women by Scott Wasserman Stern | Boston, MA: Beacon Press

    This work of legal history brings to light a forgotten government effort to control the spread of sexually transmitted infections through forced hospitalization and treatments, following the particular circumstances for Nina McCall. Stern contextualizes the "American Plan" of surveillance and incarceration using the records of earlier New York social hygiene associations, the Committee of Fifteen and the Committee of Fourteen. -Tal Nadan

    Waterfront Manhattan book cover

    Waterfront Manhattan : from Henry Hudson to the High Line by Kurt C. Schlichting | Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press

    Kurt Schlichting creates a vivid picture of the Manhattan waterfront in his new book. The first half discusses the benefits of the strategic position Manhattan had in regards to the harbor: wharves and piers were built to accommodate the influx of merchant ships that would descend upon Manhattan Island. In the second half of his book, Schlichting delves deep into the consolidation of New York City in 1898 and the effects that had on the Manhattan waterfront. Using the Brown Brothers & Company Records, Penn Central Transportation Company Records and William J. Wilgus papers, the author provides readers with a unique look at one of Manhattan’s most distinctive features. -Cara Dellatte

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  • 12/21/18--22:00: A Wish for the New Year
  • Portrait of Sting
    Photo Credit: Eric Ryan Anderson

    Guest post by Sting:

    I grew up with an ear open to all sound. I listened to everything I could, from rock and roll records to jazz, from Rodgers and Hammerstein albums to my mother's skillful and stylish piano playing. I was—and remain—in love with the magic that music creates simply from marks on a page, from keys and strings.

    Those early experiences  made me into the musician I've become. One of my wishes for the new year is that everyone finds their way to the Library for the Performing Arts (LPA), where music of all kinds can be heard—for free.

    With donor support, LPA offers access to its incredible resources, exhibitions, and performances focused on music, theater, dance, and film.Help sustain our one-of-a-kind library: Make a tax-deductible donation by December 31, and your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar!

    The Library for the Performing Arts is a treasure. It makes the ephemeral beauty of performance permanent in its archives and accessible to all. Its collections reach around the world and across time, and emphasize the incredible creativity of our moment, too.

    Thanks to the generosity of donors, the Library for the Performing Arts offered hundreds of programs and exhibitions in 2018. Help us make 2019 an even brighter and bolder year in the performing arts.

    Thank you for your support—and thank you for listening.

    Best wishes for the New Year.

    Artist for The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

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    Genealogists seek records that describe names, places, and dates. Maps describe places and their names at a given point in time and, sometimes, even record the names of people. Unsurprisingly, then, maps are very useful tools for genealogists.

    The New York Public Library Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division is home to 433,000 sheet maps, and 20,000 books and atlases published between the 16th and 21st centuries. The collections range in scale from global to local, and support the learning and research needs of a wide variety of users. This post, Gazetteers and Finding Map, is the last of a five-part series that describes some of the ways maps can be used for genealogical research.

    1. Finding records
    2. Fire insurance maps: exploring place and time
    3. Place of origin and immigration stories
    4. Topographical maps, and county maps and atlases
    5. Gazetteers and finding maps at The New York Public Library

    In the previous four parts of "Using Maps for Genealogy Research," we have explored places using all sorts of maps: fire insurance maps, historical maps, cadastral maps, topographical maps, route maps, and many more. But what if you don't know the location of the place you're looking for? This post will help answer that question as we look at gazetteers, and then we'll finish up the series with a look at how you go about finding maps at The New York Public Library.


    In its simplest form, a gazetteer is a list, dictionary, or directory of place names and their geographical location, usually their latitude and longitude. More detailed gazetteers may also include information about name changes, boundary changes, histories, demographic information, manufacturing data, the economy, tourism, forms of government, and so on.

    A detailed gazetteer may even describe places not identified on most maps, which encourages us to dig a bit deeper and look for a map that records our ancestor’s location. This information helps a researcher find a place on a map when its location is unknown, cannot easily be seen, or is not described. Perhaps that place no longer exists or the scale is too small for it to be shown, especially in the case of a small village or hamlet. Perhaps the place name has changed over the years; even if the name has changed, its geospatial coordinates should be the same.

     A Guide to the Jewish Communities Destroyed in the Holocaust book cover

    For instance, the genealogy database Ancestry Library Edition includes a record set, "Belarus and Lithuania: Census and Family Lists from various districts, 1795-1900," that records the Krivis family in Kavarskas, Lithuania between 1892 and 1894. Lithuanian Jews, the Krivis family immigrated to the United States in about 1901, so this is a place of origin for them.

    Where Once We Walked: A Guide to the Jewish Communities Destroyed in the Holocaust, by Gary Mokotoff and Sallyann Amdur Sack, gives the geospatial coordinates for Kavarskas, 55°26’/24°55’, 88 kilometers NE of a bigger town, Kaunas. This is useful as Kavarskas' population is listed as only 436. In addition to this information, alternate names for Kavarskas are given: Kavarsk, Kovarsk, Kovarskas, and Koverskas.

    The JewishGen Communities Database has a Locality page for Kavarskas that includes more name variations in Russian and Yiddish, Коварск and אָוואַרסק. The Locality page gives the Jewish population for Kavarskas in 1897 (979) and a timeline. Before World War One, Kavarskas was known as Kovarsk, and was part of the Russian Empire; between the World Wars, the village was known as Kavarskas and was a part of Lithuania; from 1944, the name remained the same but Kavarskas was part of the Soviet Union until 1990, when Lithuania regained its independence. The Encyclopaedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania (1996) includes an entry for Kavarskas:

    After the German invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, Lithuanian nationalists took control of Kavarskas. They entered Jewish homes and plundered whatever came to hand, broke windows, and set fires in Ukmerge street, where the Jews lived [Ukmerge is the Lithuanian name for the town previously known as Vilkomir]. They also arrested 30 Jewish men and women on the pretext that these had sympathized with the Soviet regime. It is most probable that the real reason was personal enmity. After the entry of the Germans into the town, on June 26, 1941, all the prisoners were shot on the banks of the river, near the village of Pumpuciai, to the south of Kavarskas. The situation of the other Jews in the town was desperate, they lived in deadly fear. The Lithuanians insulted, tormented them and robbed their property. Then, later, led them to Ukmerge and murdered them together with other Jews of the town and vicinity, in the Pivonia forest. (Pivonijos miskas). It appears, this event took place on September 5, 1941.There were no survivors from Kavarskas. The names of the Lithuanian murderers are on record in the Yad Vashem archives in Jerusalem.

    The Library has in its collections all sorts of gazetteers for New York, the United States, and many countries: Ireland, England, others in Eastern Europe and Africa…you name it. Some of those gazetteers date back hundreds of years and are of particular value to people researching places at different points in history.

    This five-part series has been a brief exploration of some of the ways genealogists can use just a few different types of maps in their research, to find records, illustrate family histories, and open up new avenues of investigation. There are many more maps that describe streets, property auctions, population demographics, and census wards. There are pictorial maps, military maps, pocket maps, relief maps, coastal maps, maps of the oceans, and maps of the stars. Maps of the moon. (And let us not forget globes.) That's just in the collections of The New York Public Library!

    Accessing maps

    There are a number of ways researchers can access maps from The New York Public Library’s collections.

    Search for print maps in the NYPL Classic Catalog and Dictionary catalog of the Map Division (aka G.K. Hall), digitized by the Hathitrust. Better still, come to the Map Division in person and talk to a map librarian about what kind of map might help with your research. You can plan your visit in advance by emailing the Map Division at Tip: Think about what you want to see in that map: continents, countries, states, counties, towns and cities, or streets and houses? This information will help you with your map hunt.

    Screenshot of the NYPL Space/Time Directory, section entitled Maps By Decade, page showing Manhattan 1890-1899

    Since 2001, the Library has digitized approximately 25,000 maps, including thousands of plates from fire insurance maps, county maps and atlases, and historic maps of New York City and the United States, all available to view, and often download for free, via NYPL Digital Collections. This guide includes links to NYC Fire Insurance, Topographic and Property Maps.

    Search for maps online in the Library’s Digital Collections using the NYPL Map Warper "Find Maps By Location" tab. Designed for rectifying maps, the map warper can be used by genealogists to search for historical addresses; compare places in historical maps with a modern map to see what changes have occurred at a particular place; download digitized maps; and export digital geospatial data for their own use.

    Search across Sanborn Maps, New York State (Geocoded) fire insurance maps in the Library, or at home with your NYPL Library card. (Apply for your Library card here.)

    Old Maps Online is an Anglo-Swiss project that maps hundreds of thousands of digitized historical online maps all over the world. Users can search for maps from NYPL, the United States Geological Survey, the David Rumsey Map Collection, the British Library Map Library, the Harvard Map Collection, and the Boston Public Library.

    Maps By Decade is a tool built by Bert Spaan as part of the NYPL space/time directory digital initiative. Search fire insurance maps that describe a single place across decades in one go, with this tool that links to NYPL Digital Collections, the NYPL Map Warper, and geospatial data.

    One last map…

    Map of the lands included in the Central Park, from a topographical survey, June 17th, 1856 drawn by Egbert Veile showing Seneca Village
    "Map of the lands included in the Central Park, from a topographical survey, June 17th, 1856"  / Egbert L. Viele; detail showing Seneca Village

    Personally, one of my favorite maps is "Map of the lands included in the Central Park, from a topographical survey, June 17th, 1856," drawn by Egbert L. Viele. If you view the map in NYPL Digital Collections, and zoom in to the area between 82nd and 86th Streets, north of the Receiving Reservoir, you'll see a scattering of buildings, outlines that describe what looks like homes and several churches.

    This is a cartographic representation of Seneca Village, a community that lived in an area that became part of Central Park, settled in 1825. It was "Manhattan’s first known community of African Americans [...] numbering more than 250 people, with three churches, several cemeteries, and a school. African Americans owned more than half the households." (Seneca Village from The Encyclopedia of New York City, pp.1167-8).

    The community expanded, with Irish and German immigrants, and possibly Native Americans also living there, until the village was razed to make way for Central Park, in 1857. Viele’s map is one of the few visual documents that survives to describe that community, a powerful record of a marginalized community living in New York City. The Seneca Village Project and the New York Parks Department have more information on Seneca Village.

    Some further reading

    Resources used in the creation of this blog series are, for the most part, described within, but here follows a select reading list:

    Walking with your ancestors: A Genealogist's Guide to Using Maps and Geography by Melinda Kashuba (2005)

    Using Maps in Genealogy / United States Geological Survey [pdf]

    Sanborn Maps / Library of Congress [online]

    Maps & Civilization: Cartography in Culture and Society by Norman J.W. Thrower (2007)

    The Story of Maps by Lloyd Brown (1949) 

    A History of the World in Twelve Maps by Jerry Brotton (2013)

    Landmarks of Mapmaking; an illustrated survey of maps and mapmakers. Maps chosen and displayed by R. V. Tooley; text written by Charles Bricker; preface by Gerald Roe Crone (1968) 

    Manhattan in maps, 1527-2014 by Paul E. Cohen and Robert T. Augustyn (2014)

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