For Members

Guide to Membership

Membership in the Library is membership in one of the most vibrant communities of readers and writers in New York City. We hope this Guide will help you enjoy everything available to you. Welcome.

Anyone 18 years old or over may become a member by submitting a completed application and paying the subscription fee. A Family membership is for more than two people at a single address.  A Dual membership is for two people at a single address, and Individual memberships and E-Memberships are for one person. E-memberships allow ten visits to the Library per year and provide access to e-books and electronic resources. There is no circulation of print books or use of private study rooms with an E-membership.

The Library's website provides links to the online catalog, remote databases, calendar of events, all Library publications, and information about our resources and activities. You can also keep up to date by following the Library on Facebook and Twitter (@nysoclib).


The Library is open 9 AM- 5 PM on Mondays and Fridays; 9 AM-7 PM on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays; and 11 AM-5 PM on Saturdays and Sundays. All areas of the Library except Circulation close 15 minutes prior to the closing hour.

The Library is closed on major holidays. These planned closings are listed on the monthly New Books list and on the website.  Emergency closings are announced on the Library's website and Facebook page, and via Twitter.


Checking Out Books: Members have access to the Library's open stacks. Memberships at the Family level may have 30 books out at any time. Dual memberships may have 20 books out at a time, and Individual memberships may borrow 10 at a time. E-Memberships do not include book circulation. Books and materials to be borrowed are checked out at the Circulation Desk and should be returned there. Books from the stacks or the Children's Library circulate for four weeks. New or seasonal books may be limited to one- or two-week loans. Old or fragile materials may have restricted circulation. Periodicals and books designated "reference" may only be used within the Library. Marking or annotating books or other materials in any way is not permitted.

Renewals: Most items may be renewed once for four additional weeks, provided that no other member has requested them. Members may renew books in person, by phone, or online. Overdue fines of 15 cents per item per day will be charged after a brief grace period.

Reserving Books: Members may reserve current bestsellers or books checked out, and may do so in person at the Circulation Desk, by phone, by mail, or online. When an item becomes available, notification is sent. Reserve books are held for 7 days from the date of notification. There is no limit on the number of holds per membership.

Suggesting a Purchase: To request that the Library purchase a book, fill out a call slip, available at the Circulation Desk, or suggest a purchase online. The Library always welcomes suggestions by members for additions to the collection and considers them for purchase.

Interlibrary Loan: The Library offers this service for items not in its collection nor available for circulation through the New York Public Library system. Ask at the Circulation Desk for a request form or find out more online.

Lost Books: Members are responsible for books checked out under their name. If a book is lost, the replacement cost will be determined by the Library and billed to the member.

Audiobooks: The Library offers downloadable audiobooks through Cloud Library. Recently acquired books on CD are shelved in the Circulation area; earlier acquisitions are found on Stack 9.

Large Print Books: Large print books are shelved by call number in the stacks. A list of large print book holdings is available on the website.

Periodicals: Current issues are in the Members' Room; back issues can be found on Stack 11 and in the Hornblower Room. Adult periodicals do not circulate; children's magazines may be checked out.

Closed Stack: To request a book listed in the catalog as "Closed Stack" or "Stack 8," fill out a call slip at the Circulation Desk. A staff member will retrieve the book. Some books may not circulate.

Rare Books: Use of materials in the rare book stack ("Z" in the catalog) is limited, and must be arranged by appointment. Please ask at the Circulation Desk or find out more online about the Library's Special Collections and using them.

Books by Mail: Members may arrange to receive books by mail. Inquire at the Circulation Desk or online for details.

Reading and Study Spaces

Reference Room: The Reference Room, on the first floor, is open to members and the public for reference, reading, and online catalog access.

Members' Room: The Members' Room, on the second floor, is for reading and quiet study. Keyboard use is not allowed. Electronic devices may be used for reading, but not typing. The sound must be turned off. Current newspapers and periodicals are located here. The Members' Room occasionally closes for Library events; notification is posted on the door in the week of the event.

Whitridge Room: The Whitridge Room, on the third floor, is for quiet reading, study, and family use.  This room is also used for Children's and other events; a monthly calendar is posted on the door.

Children's Library: The Children's Library is reserved for use by children and their caregivers.  Adult members using material from the Children's Collection may use the Children's Library, if space permits. Please see the "Children's Library Rules" for more guidelines.

Hornblower Room: The Hornblower Room, on the fifth floor, is for quiet study and laptop computer use. Please ask at the Circulation Desk for "Hornblower Room Rules."

Study Rooms: The Library has six individual study rooms on the Fifth Floor. These are available by reservation at the Circulation Desk or by telephone. Please ask at the Circulation Desk for "Individual Study Room Rules" or find more information online. These rooms are limited to use by one person at a time.

Other Study Spaces: Other small study spaces include the Green Alcove in the rear of Stack 12 and individual desks throughout the stacks.

Lockers: Members may request the use of a day locker or a six-month locker. Keys for day lockers are available at the Circulation Desk. Six-month lockers are reserved by a form available at the Circulation Desk or online.

Catalog and Research Resources

Catalogs: Online catalog access is available from any web browser or on terminals in the Reference Room on the first floor and throughout the building. The card catalog in the Reference Room is limited to author, title, and subject cards for print books acquired before March 1989.

Computers and Printers: Computer terminals with Internet access and printers are available for members to use.  These are located on Stacks 1,3,5, and 6 and on the fifth floor. The computer terminal in the Children's Library is for use by children ages 3 and older.  Users are limited to thirty minutes and 10 printed pages per day. In addition, netbook laptops may be checked out for the day at the Circulation Desk

Wireless Access: Wireless Internet access is available throughout the building with the exceptions of the Reference Room.

Electronic Resources: The Library subscribes to various electronic resources. A list is available on the main catalog page. Members may access these sources through terminals in the Library or offsite. Consult the website for further information. Use of these databases may be restricted by vendor licenses; members must abide by the terms of licenses as stated.

Copy Machine: A self-serve copy machine is available in the Reference Room. Copies cost 15 cents per page for black and white, 50 cents per page for color. The machine accepts bills and coins. Fragile materials may not be copied and all photocopying must comply with current copyright law.

Library Publications

New Books List: This list of newly acquired books arranged by subject is available monthly on the website and at the Circulation Desk.

Books & People: The features newsletter, published 3 times a year and mailed to members, contains articles of interest to members.

Regular Newsletters: The general interest newsletter is emailed near the beginning of each month with event listings, news, and links of interest. Patrons may also subscribe to an Events Extra email (1-2 per month), a Children's Library email (most weeks), and a Young Adult email (quarterly), by using this form.

Children's Calendar: The print children's calendar, listing regular programs for children and grandchildren of members, is available on the Children's Library website and at the Circulation Desk.

Annual Report: The report is sent to members annually; it contains the reports of the Chair, Treasurer, and Head Librarian and lists donors for the preceding year.


Events: The Library sponsors a regular calendar of lectures, workshops, and special events, which are listed in the monthly general interest newsletter and on the website. Registration is required for all programs unless otherwise stated; see listings for more details. Fees not included in membership dues are charged for some events.

Children's Events: The Children's Library offers regular and special events.  See the monthly Children's Calendar for details. Registration is required for all programs and children must meet the proper age requirements.

Other Facilities

Handicapped Access: A wheelchair lift is available in the main entry hall stairwell.

Restrooms: Unisex restrooms are located next to the Circulation area and next to the Children's Library, There are also restrooms on the on the Second Floor beside the Members' Room (women) and on the landing between the Second and Third Floors (men).

Water: A water cooler is located in the cloakroom next to the Circulation Area. Cups are also available in restrooms.

Coats and Strollers: Coat racks are located in the cloakroom next to the Circulation Area, in the stack entrance to the Children's Library, and in the stack entrance to the Fifth Floor. Strollers can be parked unfolded in the Reference Room or folded in the cloakroom. Strollers may not be left in the entry hall stairwell or taken up to the Children's Library.

Termination or Suspension

The privilege of using the Library and the enjoyment of its services may be suspended or terminated following violation of Library rules. The Library shall notify the member in writing of the Library's election to suspend or terminate the member's Library privileges and the reason for it. Notice shall be given by certified mail to the member at the address given on his or her member application.

Any member wishing to discuss or contest the matter of suspension or termination should notify the Head Librarian within ten days following the Library's notification and arrange for an appointment. Any member wishing to dispute the Head Librarian's decision to suspend or terminate a membership may appeal in writing to the Board of Trustees.

Rules of the Library

The Library strives to provide an atmosphere conducive to reading, study, writing, and research. All users should respect this overriding goal in their behavior and the manner in which they enjoy the Library.

  1. Silence should be maintained in the reading and study rooms and in the stacks.
  2. Talking on cell phones is prohibited throughout the Library. All electronic devices must be used only in silent (not vibrate) mode. This rule will be strictly enforced by the staff. Please be sure to turn your device to silent when you enter the building.
  3. Food and beverages are not permitted anywhere in the building, including the study rooms and stacks.
  4. Smoking, including e-cigarettes, is not allowed anywhere in the Library.
  5. Appropriate dress (including footwear) must be worn at all times.
  6. Bags, briefcases, and backpacks are subject to inspection by the Library staff.
  7. Items of personal property are brought into the Library at the owner's risk and the Library cannot accept responsibility for loss of such items or for theft or damage.
  8. Use of the photocopier, computers, and printers must comply with copyright laws.
  9. The First Floor Reference Room and the Peluso Family Exhibition Gallery are open to the public. Only members of the Library are admitted to other rooms, except by permission of a librarian.
  10. All users of the Library must vacate the stacks and reading and study rooms fifteen minutes before closing time. The Library closes promptly at 5 PM on Mondays & Fridays, at 5 PM on Saturdays, and Sundays, and at 7 PM on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

Library staff members reserve the right to call a halt to all activities deemed to be inconsiderate or disorderly, and to ask anyone whose behavior is deemed inappropriate to leave the building.