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MoMA

LIBRARY ACCESS FAQ

Library_storage

For questions about library access that are not included here, please email library@moma.org, call (212) 708-9433, or fax (212) 333-1122.


Q. Who may use the libraries?

A. The library is open by appointment to all researchers. Elementary and secondary students are advised to start their research at school and public libraries. To learn how to do basic art research, see Art Research FAQ.

Q. Where are the libraries? How do I get there?

A. The MoMA Manhattan library is located in The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building at 4 West 54 St., part of the Museum complex in midtown Manhattan. For directions see Plan Your Visit.

The MoMA QNS library is located at 45-20 33 St. in Long Island City, Queens. For directions see How to Get There. Please note: MoMA QNS is at a different location than MoMA PS1.

Q. How do I know what's where?

A. Manhattan has books published after 1939, most Special Collections, most MoMA publications, microfilm/fiche, and some current periodical issues.

QNS has books published before 1940, bound periodicals, the rest of the current periodical issues, small exhibition catalogs (AEC, GEC), Artist’s Books, most files, posters, multimedia, audiovisual materials, and all files. If in doubt, each listing in DADABASE indicates a Manhattan or Queens location. To limit a search to Manhattan or QNS items, choose from the drop down menu to the right of the search box.

See also Will you ship materials between libraries?

Q. What are the library hours?

A. Manhattan: Wednesday–Friday, 11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
QNS: Monday, 11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Appointments are required.

Please note: the library is closed for the month of August (reopening the first Wednesday after Labor Day) and the week between Christmas and New Year's (reopening the first Monday or Wednesday after New Year's). Exact dates of all closings are listed here. Advance appointments are welcome.

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Q. How do I make appointments?

A. For appointments at either the Manhattan or QNS locations, please email library@moma.org, call (212) 708-9433, or fax (212) 333-1122. All appointments must be confirmed.

Researchers are strongly advised to check the location of relevant materials and the hours of those locations in advance, as well as the availability of specific items.

See also How do I request materials?

Q. What do I do upon arrival?

A. MoMA library Manhattan Enter on Fifty-fourth Street and check in with the receptionist. Check coats, bags, and cases in the lockers provided. Plastic bags are supplied to carry materials to and from the reading room.

You will receive an elevator pass. In the elevator, hold the pass in front of the small black window below the elevator buttons. When the light turns green, press 6. Remember to return the pass when you leave.

Check in with the librarian. Silence cell phones.

MoMA library QNS Enter MoMA QNS via the staff entrance and check in with security. Check coats, bags, and cases in the lockers provided. Enter the library from the lobby and check in with the librarian. Silence cell phones.

Q. What's allowed in the reading rooms? What do I have to store in lockers and why?

A. For security and preservation purposes, only certain materials are permitted in the reading rooms. All other materials must be stored in the lockers provided.

You may bring a laptop, notebooks, notes, paper, pencils, a camera, digital media, and (silenced) cell phones.

You must store coats, bags (including purses), laptop and camera cases, pens, and markers.

See also Where can I use my cell phone?

Q. How do I request materials? May I request materials in advance?

A. All materials must be requested through DADABASE, the online catalog. A researcher ID and password is issued to you each day you use the libraries.

Materials are paged three times per day, up to 10 items per page.

For delivery at 11:00 a.m., request by 10:00 a.m.
For delivery at 1:00 p.m., request by 12:00 p.m.
For delivery at 3:00 p.m., request by 2:00 p.m.

To request the first 10 items in advance, place requests after 6:00 p.m. the evening prior to your appointment.

To request items, search DADABASE and use the red “request” button. Enter your ID number as both login and password.

See also Can I connect to the Internet with my laptop?

Q. Will you ship materials between libraries?

A. No. For reasons of security and preservation, researchers must visit the relevant library. Researchers visiting from out of town are advised to verify item location and availability in advance.

Q. May I use both libraries on the same day?

A. No. At this time the libraries are not open concurrently (see library hours).

Q. How are the library, Museum Archives, and Study Centers related?

A. The library, Museum Archives, and Study Centers work in concert. For general research about modern art, including catalogs from past Museum exhibitions, contact the library.

For primary source materials, especially those concerning The Museum of Modern Art as an institution, contact the Museum Archives. For materials related to individual works in the Museum’s collections, including films and videos, consult the relevant Study Center.

See also What's the difference between primary and secondary sources?

Q. Is the library catalogue on the Internet?

A. Yes—DADABASE. To learn more, please see DADABASE FAQ.

Q. May I borrow from the library?

A. No. The library is a research collection. Materials are for on-site use only.

See also May I photograph, scan, or photocopy materials?

Q. May I borrow through interlibrary loan?

A. The library accepts interlibrary loan requests from institutions participating in the SHARES program via OCLC. Materials are loaned for four weeks, for library use only. Due to high volume, only last-resort requests are accepted from libraries unaffiliated with a museum or academic institution. To send a request, please email library@moma.org or fax (212) 333-1122. Requests from individuals and non-library institutions are not accepted.

Q. May I put materials on hold for later use?

A. Yes. Materials may be held at the reference desk for up to a week.

Q. May I photograph, scan, or photocopy materials?

A. Yes, depending on the condition of the material. Scanners, photocopiers, and a digital camera are available for researcher use. Scanners include:

  • Face-up scanner: scans color or black-and-white to a USB drive (strongly recommended), email, or paper. Formats include PDF and JPG. Use for fragile or tightly-bound items; recommended for multiple page scans.
  • Face-down scanner scans black-and-white PDF to email or paper. Suitable for items with flexible, sewn, or stapled bindings. Best for scans under 10 pages, due to email file-size limits.
  • Flatbed scanner: scans color and black-and-white to USB, email, DVD, or paper. Saves in many file formats, including JPG, GIF, and Raw Photoshop. Use only for flat, unbound materials.

4GB USB drives are available for $15 each.

Paper output is 25 cents per page (double-sided copies are considered one page), payable by cash or check at the reference desk.

Q. What about copyright?

A. Works in The Museum of Modern Art library may be protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code). Therefore, the making of copies, whether by photographs, photocopies, or other reproductions, may be subject to copyright laws. Images may be used only for private study, scholarship, or research. Any other use, including reproduction or publication, requires the permission of the copyright holder.

To learn about reproducing images from the library or Musuem collection, see Image Permissions.

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Q. Can I connect to the Internet with my laptop?

A. MoMA library Manhattan: Yes, via the MoMAWifi wireless network. In addition, Internet-accessible computers are available in the reading room. At the Manhattan library, two loaner laptops are available for individual use.

Q. Why can't I use sticky notes (like Post-Its) in the library?

A. Sticky notes leave an adhesive residue, causing long-term damage to paper. Use plain paper bookmarks, available in the reading rooms.

Q. Where can I use my cell phone?

A. Cell phones may be used in the Cullman and QNS building lobbies only. Cell phones must be silenced and may not be used on the 6th floor, including in reading rooms, hallways, offices, or bathrooms.

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Q. Will the library copy and send a file to me?

A. Due to the number of queries we receive, it’s not possible for us to copy and send file contents. Instead, please consult the file at the library. For Artist File contents, a microfiche version (completed 1986) may be available through your local library, interlibrary loan, or from the publisher, Chadwyck-Healey.

Q. Will the library research a topic for me?

A. No. In-depth questions must be explored by the researcher. library staff can suggest approaches and sources and can often answer basic reference questions. Reference questions concern readily-available facts (such as artist birth and death dates or Museum collection catalog checks).

Q. Will the library identify, authenticate, or appraise art for me?

A. No. See How can I get an artwork evaluated, authenticated, or appraised?

Q. Can I recommend a book or other materials for the library to acquire?

A. The library welcomes suggestions for additions to its collection. All gifts and recommendations are evaluated in accordance with the library’s collection development policy, available upon request. In brief, the library collects comprehensively in modern and contemporary art (including painting, sculpture, drawing, prints, photography, architecture, film and media, design, performance, and emerging art forms). The library collects published material in all media (print, audio, video, digital).

The library also collects artists’ books (also known as bookworks, book objects or artists’ magazines). The library does not collect unique or small-edition artists’ books, illustrated books, or portfolios of prints or photographs.

Books for review should be sent to the Bibliographer at 11 West 53 St., New York, New York, 10019. Book artists should include a biographical statement or curriculum vitae. Due to the volume of material received, materials cannot be returned and may not be acknowledged.

Updated October 2011

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