A Field Trip to New York Public Library’s Performing Arts Library

Rainy, damp Lincoln Center

Emerging out of a nightmare heatwave this past weekend–it was so unbearably humid, guys, plus there were a lot of power outages around–Monday has brought more humidity and now rain, storms, and flooding.

But today, my Archives class took a field trip–to the New York Public Library’s Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center! I’ve been to Lincoln Center a few times in my life, but never to the Performing Arts branch.

This library is divided into different divisions: Dance, Music, Theatre. Our class met with an archivist in the Music division and she showed us where the circulating collection was–books that can be taken out by patrons–as well as the research floor, where patrons can come and ask for specific recordings (which are played by technicians downstairs, so as to minimize wear and tear on record albums and CDs). In the Theatre division, people come to watch recorded Broadway shows (only a certain number of Broadway shows are recorded, btw). Still other researchers, under observation, can handle papers or artifacts in the reading room.

We were also taken down to the archives’ vaults–huge rooms where the stuff is kept in boxes on shelves, in file cabinets. We saw their backlog, the collections of glass records, part of the Rodgers and Hammerstein recorded music collection. We went down to the room where the recorded music or Broadway shows are played for the patrons upstairs. We talked to an audio engineer, who explained some of the archaic equipment he needs to work with in order to take care or digitize older tape reels, for instance.

I’d love to go back and learn more about what kind of stuff the Theatre Division keeps!

2 thoughts on “A Field Trip to New York Public Library’s Performing Arts Library

  1. Cool! I didn't know there was a performing arts library. I want one here. Love the overcast sky in the picture, by the way. ^_^ Our humidity hasn't hit yet, but it's been raining and storming almost nonstop all summer.


  2. Oh, it was a deluge last night. My neighborhood flooded and we're on higher ground so we don't usually flood. The library was really cool! I also learned that nitrate film can blow up!


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