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 Street, part of the Museum complex in midtown Manhattan. For directions see Plan Your Visit.

Most library materials are stored at an offsite facility. In the library catalog, this is indicated as “Queens.” Most materials located at the MoMA Queens Library are now requestable for use at the MoMA Manhattan Library.

See also Will you ship materials from off-site?

Q. When is the library open?

A. Tuesday–Friday, 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. Please email library@moma.org or call (212) 708-9433. All appointments must be confirmed.

Please note that all library materials, regardless of location, require paging a minimum of 24 hours in advance. Also, please note that most materials located at the MoMA Queens Library are now requestable for use at the MoMA Manhattan Library.

You may request up to 10 items per day. Request by 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday for delivery at 11:00 a.m. the following day. Items requested by 10:00 a.m. Friday and Monday will be delivered at 11:00 a.m. on the following Tuesday. Researchers are strongly advised to check the availability of specific items. Materials with the status “checked out” or “labeling” may not be available or may require extra time for retrieval.

See also How do I request materials?

Q. What do I do upon arrival?

A. Enter on 54 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.

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

A. Upon confirmation of your first appointment, a library record will be created for you. It consists of your last name and a barcode. Use your last name and barcode to request materials through DADABASE, the library catalog.

Please note that all library materials, regardless of location, require paging a minimum of 24 hours in advance. Also, please note that materials located at the MoMA QNS Library are now requestable for use at the MoMA Manhattan Library.

You may request up to 10 items per day. Request by 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday for delivery at 11:00 a.m. the following day. Items requested by 10:00 a.m. Friday and Monday will be delivered at 11:00 a.m. on the following Tuesday.

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

Q. Will you ship materials from off-site?

A. Yes. Most materials located at the MoMA Queens Library are now requestable for use at the MoMA Manhattan Library. Please note that all library materials, regardless of location, require paging a minimum of 24 hours in advance.

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

A. The library, 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 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 until you are finished with them.

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.

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. Yes, via the MoMAWifi wireless network. In addition, Internet-accessible computers are available in the reading room. Two loaner laptops and two iPads 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 lobby only. Cell phones must be silenced and may not be used on the sixth 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 September 2015

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