Resources and Services for Teachers
at the New York State Library

Lesson Plans

The Dutch in Colonial New York: The New Netherland Project has developed several social studies curriculum packets using primary documents:

Black-and-white illustration of the railroad strike from the August 11, 1887 issue of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper.

Labor History: The Great Railroad Strike of 1877: An Instructional Packet for Teachers and Students of Labor History in New York State and the United States of America was produced by The Friends of the New York State Newspaper Project in 2001. Originally developed as a loose-leaf book, the packet is now available online.

These materials include seven student activities based on 15 newspaper articles from The Albany Argus (1877) and the Buffalo Morning Express (1892). The activities in the packet correlate with the New York State Learning Standards and Performance Indicators for the Intermediate and Commencement Levels. It is aimed at social studies and language arts teachers of grades 7, 8 and 11.

Use Our Online Resources

Internet Bibliographies: The Internet Bibliographies are a collection of web links on a variety of subjects that complement strengths in the State Library's collections. In addition to links on Education K-12 and Colleges and Universities, there are also Internet Bibliographies that cover subjects such as African-American resources, biography, grants, genealogy, federal government information, health and medicine, Hispanic and Latino resources, language and literature, Native American resources, New York State government, newspapers and science.

NOVELNY Databases
: NOVELNY (the NY Online Virtual Electronic Library) enables libraries -- including school libraries -- across New York State to provide online access to the full text of hundreds of journals, newspapers and other references. NOVELNY resources include:

NOVEL New York
  • newspaper articles,
  • magazine articles, including magazines geared toward children and teens,
  • encyclopedias and other reference materials (e.g., Twayne's Author Series), and
  • health information.

For further information call the NOVELNY Help Desk at 877-277-0250 or in the Capital District call (518) 486-6012.

Regents Exams: Copies of many of the Regents high school examinations, from August 1961 to the present, are available online as PDF files.

New York State Library Digital Collections: In addition to the Regents Exams, many other documents from our collections, particularly publications of NYS agencies and certain historical documents, are also available online in PDF format.

Examples of scanned documents:

The cover of The Red Book photo of an official proclamation of the governor broadside advertising travel between Albany and Buffalo Cover of a document from the NYS Canal Authority

See also Teaching about Life in the Hudson-Mohawk Valley: Maps.

Use Our Collections and Onsite Resources

Catalog: Search our online catalog, Excelsior, for books, journals, government documents and other resources. If you find something of interest, there are two ways you can borrow books from the State Library:

Education Collection
: The New York State Library has an extensive collection of education and education-related information, current and historical. Resources include Education Resource Information Center (ERIC) documents, which include items such as curriculum guides, reports, and lesson plans, full text journal articles, college catalogs, financial aid information, and education law.

Newspaper Collections: The State Library has a large collection of current and historical newspapers, in print or on microfilm. Our collection is particularly strong in papers from communities within New York State. Newspapers on microfilm may be used onsite or the microfilm may be requested through Interlibrary Loan, which is done through your local library.

Primary Source Materials:

photo of an old map
  • Manuscripts and Special Collections: The Manuscripts and Special Collections Unit of the New York State Library collects primary source items such as archives and manuscripts, rare books, maps and atlases, prints and photographs, broadsides and posters, musical scores and ephemera. These collections document the history of New York State from the 17th century to the present and illustrate the history of many topics related to American history, literature, science and the arts.
  • Historical Documents (Online): Since 1995, the New York State Library has been scanning New York State government publications and making them available online. In 2006, the State Library expanded the types of materials being scanned to include various historical documents. These items, which were scanned from paper copies located in the State Library, are freely available as PDF documents on the State Library's web site.

    Specific items which might be helpful for teachers include:
  • Historical Documents Inventory (HDI): Historical societies and other document repositories throughout New York State also have primary source materials. Although these materials are not held at the State Library, there are records (labeled HDI) for them in our catalog. To access any items labeled HDI, contact the institution mentioned in the LOCATION part of the catalog record.

Research Residencies: Grants of $1,000 are available annually for original research in New York State history using the unique collections of the New York State Library. Grants are available to academic and public historians, graduate students, independent researchers and writers and primary and secondary school teachers. Preference will be given to projects that have a high probability of publication or other public dissemination.

Photo of a woman with a guide dog, listening to a recorded book, with the caption 'That all may read.'

Talking Book and Braille Library: Schools or individual children can enroll in the Talking Book and Braille Library and register to borrow audio books and digital players, as well as books in braille.

Schools may contact the Library for a special educator's registration and information packet, which includes an application for school service, student certification forms, School Guidelines, information for parents, sources of textbooks in special format, and a sample braille alphabet card. See TBBL Youth Services for more information.

Photo of a page from the Emancipation Proclamation, hand-written by Abraham Lincoln.

Online Exhibits: The Online Exhibits contain images of the actual items, such as a bronze bust of Washington, Lincoln's hand-written draft of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, or trolley tickets and photographs of trains, all from collections in the New York State Library's Manuscripts and Special Collections Unit.

By using the Virtual Exhibits, primary source materials can be easily read online by students in various areas of the State even if they cannot come in to the Library to see the original documents.

Need Expert Help? Librarians familiar with education resources are available to answer questions, and provide guidance to library materials. You can contact them in several ways.

Online form: E-mail Reference Requests
Telephone: 518-474-5355
Mail: NYS Library, Reference Services, CEC, Albany, New York 12230

Other Resources

Find Your Local Public Library: A directory of and links to public libraries throughout New York State. Many of these libraries are listed in the Historical Documents Inventory as owning primary source documents.

The Digital Collections: A gateway to materials held by the New York State Archives, Museum and Library.

Resources in the Archives for Students and Teachers: A guide to materials held by the New York State Archives.

Rediscovering New York: A project of the State Archives that provides links to historical records.

Resources in the New York State Museum: The New York State Museum offers teacher guides, science information, onsite visits, and more.

New York State Office of Public Broadcasting: The New York State Office of Public Broadcasting has many resources for teachers including instructional videos, lesson plans, professional development courses, and more.

Photo of a teacher in front of a blackboard and a world map.
Last Updated: September 6, 2016