New York State Library
NYSL Facebook page NYSL Instagram account NYSL Twitter account

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:

Illustration of railroad strike from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper (August 11, 1887)

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.

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 personal papers, letters, diaries, hand-drawn maps, and photographs. 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Historical Documents in the NYSL Digital Collections: Since 1995, the New York State Library has been scanning New York State government publications and making them available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 In 2006, the State Library expanded the types of materials being scanned to include various historical documents.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Historical Documents Inventory (HDI): Historical societies and other document repositories throughout New York State also have primary source materials.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.

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.

NOVEL New York

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:

  • newspaper articles,
  • magazine articles, including magazines geared toward children and teens,
  • encyclopedias and other reference materials, 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:

Composite image of six documents including several State documents, a travel broadside and a map.

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

Collections and On-site Resources

Catalog: Search our online catalog 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 on-site or the microfilm may be requested through Interlibrary Loan, which is done through your local library.

Image of a woman 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, ources 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: 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

Last Updated: September 9, 2022