Shhh! 10 NYC Libraries Students Secretly Love

Are you hosting the next group study session? You're in luck. NYC has a wealth of libraries. Check out the 10 New York public libraries students love.

portrait of Michelle Boudin
by Michelle Boudin

Updated May 26, 2022

Edited by Desiree Cunningham
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Shhh! 10 NYC Libraries Students Secretly Love
Image Credit: Sam Edwards / OJO / Getty Images

Are you hosting the next group study session? You're in luck. New York is home to some of the best libraries in the world, and students will love all the unique resources they have to offer.

The New York Public Library system has 92 branches offering a wide variety of programs, rare resource materials, and plenty of quiet space for studying.

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Ready to start your journey?

Some locations have striking architecture and unique histories worth exploring. Branches have even been used as filming locations for movies.

Put all your school supplies in your backpack, and don't forget your syllabus — it's time to find your next study haven. Check out this list of New York public libraries that students secretly love.

New York Public Libraries Perfect for Study Hour

Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

The New York Public Library's main branch opened in 1911, with then-President William Howard Taft leading the opening ceremony. This NYC landmark is easily recognizable thanks to the two lions that flank the main entrance steps and have been featured in several movies. It is home to expansive research divisions — including artifacts, manuscripts, rare books, and collections. The library is considered one of the world's largest public resources on everything from anthropology and archaeology to religion, sports, world history, and literature. Located in the heart of midtown at Bryant Park, it is also an ideal place for studying, thanks to the historic Rose Main Reading Room and dedicated study rooms.

Brooklyn Public Library (Central Library Location)

This iconic New York library has a stunning facade and massive lobby that welcomes visitors to take advantage of its vast collections. Students will appreciate the reading rooms, skill workshops, and the Career and Business Center, offering job search support. There's also a cafe, perfect for keeping you going during a late-night study session. The library first opened in 1941 and was declared a historic site in 1997. It underwent a major renovation in 2021.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

One of the New York Public Library's premier research libraries, this Harlem-based branch and community focal point houses extensive collections with more than 11 million items that focus on African American, African Diaspora, and African experiences. Founded in 1925, the library is considered one of the leading national research libraries and cultural institutions when it comes to documenting Black life in the U.S. African American studies students will find this library especially helpful as The Langston Hughes Auditorium offers forums, workshops, performing arts programs, and more throughout the year.

Poets House

This NYC library houses one of the largest independent poetry collections available to the public anywhere in the country. In Poets House's spacious and sunny reading room, creative writing and English major students can browse, read, write, and watch videos while enjoying views of Rockefeller Park and the Hudson River. The library flooded in 2021 and is undergoing a renovation that should end in late 2022.

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library

Formerly known as the Mid-Manhattan Library, this midtown branch built in 1915 recently underwent a full-scale renovation. The library now features an adult learning center, a business center, meeting rooms, and the only free, publicly accessible rooftop terrace in Manhattan. All students will enjoy browsing the New York public library's extensive collections and leading discussion groups on the rooftop overlooking NYC.

New York Public Library for The Performing Arts

This New York public library houses one of the world's most extensive research collections in theater, film, dance, and music, as well as a wide array of reference materials and items you can borrow. Located in the Lincoln Center complex, theater students will love what's coming soon to the library: a lab that will help creatives stream content from the archives at the library, rehearse along with them, record themselves, and create new work.

Jefferson Market Library

Originally a courthouse, the Jefferson Market Library has served the Greenwich Village community for more than 40 years. The New York City landmark is a Victorian Gothic-style building constructed alongside a prison and market between 1875 and 1877. What was a civil court on the second floor is now the Adult Reading Room. The beautiful brick-arched basement, now the Reference Room, was used as a holding area for prisoners on their way to trial.

Mulberry Street Library

Located at the site of a former chocolate factory, the Mulberry Street Library is at the building that David Bowie once called home. The library has two large reading and working rooms for adults, perfect for quiet individual study. There are dozens of computers and laptops available throughout the building and a community room that hosts a wide range of educational and entertaining programs.

The Morgan Library and Museum

This research library and museum located in the heart of Manhattan started as the personal library of noted financier John Pierpont Morgan. History and art history students will find Michelangelo drawings and Steinbeck manuscripts among the library's collections. This majestic building resembles an Italian Renaissance-style palazzo and hosts a wide variety of programs, including concerts, lectures, and rotating exhibits.

New York Academy of Medicine Library

Future medical school students may want to check out this working professional library. The New York Academy of Medicine Library has issues from more than a thousand different medical journals. It is one of the most significant historical libraries in medicine and public health in the world. The library also hosts a wide-ranging roster of public programming, integrating health and medicine with history, the humanities, and the arts.

NYC Library Etiquette

We all know to use our inside voices in the library, but there are a few more manners you might want to use when studying there to avoid being quietly escorted out.

  • Shhhh! Quiet Please: Keep conversations to a minimum unless you're in a special room or designated meeting space.
  • Designated Spaces: Be mindful of what a specific space is meant for. From cubicles to tables, meeting rooms, and computer labs, most libraries have dedicated spaces for different tasks.
  • Silence Your Phone and Computer: A ringing cellphone or the ding of an incoming email on your laptop can be just as distracting as a loud talker.
  • Food and Drink: Many libraries have their own cafes and prefer patrons to only eat and drink there.
  • Headphones: Music may help your studying, but it can distract others. Make sure you're the only one hearing what's playing.
  • Saving seats: If your study group is a big one, you may want to consider reserving a meeting room. Saving seats is discouraged in some libraries.
  • Napping: You may be pulling an all-nighter, but that doesn't mean it's ok to nap in the library.

Frequently Asked Questions About NYC Libraries

Why are libraries important to students?

Libraries can be a great resource for students for many reasons. In addition to the research material they house, libraries also offer a range of important programming and a quiet place to study.

Can anyone go to an NYC library?

Public libraries are often described as the most democratic institution in any community because they are free and open to anyone.

Do I need a library card to go to New York libraries?

You do not need a library card to go to a library. You can take advantage of several resources without a card, but you need a card to borrow physical and digital materials.

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