MSC Policies/Access to MSC Collections

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Research Room Rules

There are card catalogs and the Library's on-line catalog, Excelsior, with bibliographic records of the Library manuscripts and rare books collections, manuscripts, maps, prints, broadsides and sheet music collections and detailed finding aids to many collections. Recently cataloged parts of the manuscripts, prints and musical scores collections are listed on the Research Libraries Information Network (RLIN) which may be accessed in research libraries around the U.S. or via the Internet. Federal maps are accessible through the on-line catalog. U.S.posters may be accessed via their Superintendent of Documents (SUDOC) number available on the Government Printing Office CD-ROM or the Monthly Catalog, both available on the State Library's 7th floor.

Because of the great variety of subjects and formats of material in Manuscripts and Special Collections, it is advisable to discuss your research with a librarian to ensure that you have discovered all potentially important material related to your subject.


Material is retrieved starting at 10:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and starting at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on the Saturdays we are open (the second Saturday of each month). You should call ahead to request that material be placed on reserve for you. Material may be reserved for as long as two weeks. Some collections are stored off-site and may require several business days to retrieve. Arrangements should be made prior to visiting the Library.


The New York State Library does not hold the copyright to the items in its collection. If the work is subject to copyright, the copyright remains with the producer or publisher of the work or others to whom the copyright may have been assigned. The researcher is responsible for obtaining permission from the copyright holder before publishing any of this material.

Some graphic material may have additional restrictions beyond copyright and some manuscripts material may have literary rights which are owned by others than the State Library. All applicable restrictions regarding copyright and literary rights should be respected. In addition, we ask that any material reproduced from our collections include the credit line "Courtesy of the New York State Library, Manuscripts and Special Collections."


The New York State Library can provide black-and-white photocopies or digital scans of Manuscripts and Special Collections materials, dependent upon condition of material, copyright or donor restrictions or other reasons. All copying of material in Manuscripts and Special Collections must be done by staff.

Microfilm is generally done for either entire collections or large parts of collections. General charges of microfilm are available by request, although specific requests will require cost estimates.

If a photograph is required for publication or other use, researchers should make their own arrangements to have the material photographed. If they do not wish to do their own photography, a list of local photographers is available upon request. The State Library does not endorse or recommend any photographers. Researchers must provide the photographer with all information needed to retrieve the material and instruct the photographer to request the material several business days in advance of use. Alternatively, researchers may request the material themselves and have it placed on reserve for copying. Material may be held on reserve for up to two weeks.

For information on prices for copying services, see Document Delivery Charges.

Last Updated: May 20, 2021