Fales Collection

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Fales FAQs


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> General Info
> Your Research Visit
> Policies
> Events & Classes
> Rights & Reproductions
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Contact: fales.library@nyu.edu / 212 998 2596
Regular Hours: Monday to Friday, 10:00 to 5:45

Who can use the collections at Fales?

The Fales Library is open to NYU students, faculty and staff, as well as qualified researchers and scholars from throughout the US and abroad.

Do I need an appointment?

To look at archival material, you must make an appointment 48 hours in advance by emailing fales.library@nyu.edu. This is to ensure that offsite material has been ordered, that someone else isn’t already scheduled to use the collection that day, that there is space for you in the reading room, and so we can help you find the materials you want.

To look at published material (books and periodicals listed in Bobcat) you do not need an appointment and can stop by whenever we are open. (10-5:45 M-F during the school year, 10-4:45 during the summer). Please note that some books are stored offsite and may take up to 48 hours to be recalled. If you have a question about whether or not your book will need to be recalled, please call us at 212-998-2596 or email us at fales.library@nyu.edu.

What if I am not in the area?

If you are unable to visit us in person, we may be able to provide some reference services remotely, with restrictions. If your project becomes very time consuming, we will ask that you hire a personal researcher. We can refer you to local proxy researchers for this purpose. Please email fales.library@nyu.edu to ask about remote research.

Have any Fales archival collections been digitized and how can I access this material?

Most collections at Fales contain unique material that is not available on the internet. A few specific collections have been partly digitized. These include the David Wojnarowicz journals, and the Arts series of the Judson Memorial Church Archive. There are links in the corresponding finding aids to whatever material has been digitized.

How do I use the collections at Fales?

Because we are a closed-stack library, you will not be able to browse for books or archives that you need and will need to use library catalogues to figure out what you want to see before you arrive.

For archival collections, there are several ways to find what you are looking for. You can do a subject search in Bobcat, and narrow down the results in “Resource Type” on the left sidebar by clicking on “Archival Materials”.  A list of archival collections in which your search term appears should be listed.

You can also search our archives using our search tool which is located here. Enter search terms for a keyword search in the box at the upper right, or browse a limited list of People, Subjects, and Places on the left. These searches will ultimately bring you to a finding aid for a particular collection.

If you are interested in a particular institution or person, and Fales has a collection related to that person or institution, you can browse the collection finding aid by clicking on the title in the search tool or on our website.

Once you have figured out which boxes you would like to look at, email fales.library@nyu.edu and let the staff know what they are, and when you would like to come in. Staff is also available to help you find what you are looking for or lead you to other helpful resources.

In order to locate books or periodicals, please consult Bobcat, NYU’s online library catalogue. For particular questions about books or periodicals, please contact fales.library@nyu.edu and a librarian will be happy to help you find what you are looking for.

Who may I contact with questions?

For any and all questions, please email fales.library@nyu.edu. We try to respond to emails within 2 business days.

General Info:

What collections does Fales have?

The Fales Library, comprising nearly 355,000 volumes, 11,000 linear feet of archive and manuscript materials, and about 90,000 audiovisual elements, houses the Fales Collection of rare books and manuscripts in English and American literature, the Downtown Collection, the Food and Cookery Collection, the Riot Grrrl Collection, and the general Special Collections of the NYU Libraries.

What is an archive?

An archive is a collection of historical documents, generated by the activities of a person or institution. As distinguished from a library, an archive usually consists of unpublished, unique, and irreplaceable material. At Fales, our archives contain photographs, flyers, ephemera, transaction records, manuscript drafts, drawings, notebooks, journals, correspondence, film, video, audio, and much more.

What is a finding aid?

A finding aid is a contextualized inventory created by archivists to help researchers find what they are looking for in an archival collection. A biographical or historical note will tell you more about the person or institution who created the records or whom the records are about. A scope and content note will give you a general idea of what is contained in the collection. An arrangement note tells you how the collection is arranged. Access points are standardized search terms, giving you an overall sense of the people, places, subjects and archival formats represented in the collection. The "container list" is where you'll find titles and numbers of folders and items – which is the information you need to know for your appointment.

What is a Special Collections Library?

A library, or an administrative unit (such as department) of a larger library, devoted to collecting, organizing, preserving, and describing special collections materials and making them accessible. Special collections materials are the entire range of textual, graphic and artifact primary source materials in analog and digital formats, including printed books, manuscripts, photographs, maps, artworks, audio-visual materials, and realia.

What’s so special about this book?

The books housed at Fales are treated differently from the regularly circulating library books for several reasons. They may be part of a collection of works documenting a specific subject or idea, and as such we want them to be available in the context of a collection. The editions we have may be special for other reasons: the item may be a first edition of which there are limited quantities; the copy may have belonged to the author (“association copy”), or have been presented by the author to a significant person (“presentation copy”), or may represent a significant edition for other reasons. As a special collection, we also have to plan forward, and it can be difficult to know what will be considered rare in the future. To that end, we treat the new books that are in our collections in the same manner in which we treat older, more scarce titles, in the hopes that they will be preserved in perpetuity for future generations.

At Fales, we are also concerned with the book as a material object, and what this materiality can teach us about the process of its creation, and subsequent use. Therefore, even for titles that do not seem currently rare or unique, and may even be in the circulating collections, we stipulate that the same processes and mediated use is uniform across all items, regardless of age or provenance.

Your Research Visit:

What can I expect when I visit Fales to conduct research?

If you are not part of the NYU library consortium, please bring ID and check in at the Bobst Library Privileges Desk to the left of Bobst's main entrance before coming up to Fales.

The first time you visit the Fales Library & Special Collections, you will be asked to read our rules and procedures and fill out a registration form. We use this information for security and statistical purposes. You will be asked for a photo ID, which we will hold on to while you are researching.

You will also be asked to store all your personal belongings, including your phone, in a locker. You can bring with you to the table: paper, a pencil, and a laptop computer.

If you are looking at archival material, you will be asked to fill out a manuscript request form telling us which folders you would like to look at. We check out materials one folder at a time. If you are looking at published material, you will fill out a call slip for the book or periodical.

Someone will page (go and get) your material, and once it is retrieved, you will be able to begin your research.

How do I get to Fales?

Fales is located on the third floor of NYU's Bobst Library, at 70 Washington Square South. The nearest subway stations are at West 4th, Union Square, 8th Street, and Astor Place.

Policies and Procedures:

Can I take library materials home? Can I browse the shelves?

The Fales Library & Special Collections is a closed-stack, non-circulating library. This means that library staff retrieves material for researchers, who then consult that material in the reading room. This goes for both books and archival material.

Can I use my phone in the reading room?

Cell phone and smartphone use is limited to taking pictures with prior approval only, and all other cell phone use is prohibited in the reading room. Phone use is very distracting to other researchers, and has the potential to violate copyright law. If you need to call, text, or email someone using your phone, you should step outside the reading room.

Can I scan or photocopy materials?

We can make photocopies of most archival material for research purposes. Photocopies are 50 cents each. Some documents, and all bound material such as books, cannot be copied. If you have permission from the copyright holder to reproduce an item, we can make high resolution scans at a cost of $15 each. You can read more about these policies here.

Can I get a copy of audiovisual material (film, videotapes, or audiotapes) for research purposes?

No. As an academic research library, we must abide by certain standards of behavior for scholarship, particularly when it involves the intellectual property of others. Fales Library does not hold the copyright for its audiovisual materials. We do not reproduce works in copyright. 


Events & Classes:

How can I find out more about events and exhibitions at Fales?

Events at Fales are listed here. For regular updates on events, you can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

What about class visits and/or students using Fales materials for group projects?

We are happy to accommodate your class. Please contact fales.library@nyu.edu before the start of the semester in which you are teaching to request a class visit, or if your class would like to conduct research with our collections.

Rights and Reproduction:

What about taking photos, or making copies or scans?

In most cases, we allow self-shot photography for research purposes. If you have permission from the copyright holder to reproduce an item, we can make high resolution scans at a cost of $15 each. Please ask the front desk for a photo request form if you'd like to take photos or request scans. You can read more about these policies here.

How can I get the rights to reproduce material?

The Fales Library cannot give you legal rights to publish material (except for those collections where the library holds these rights). Such rights must be obtained from the creators or executors of any materials you wish to publish. The Fales Library acts only as owner of the physical originals (of manuscripts, prints, etc.) and takes no responsibility for any infringement of copyright laws in the publication of material.

Making a Donation:

What if I am interested in donating books or archives?

We selectively accept donations of archives and books that and support research in our areas of collecting. If you are interested in donating archives or books, please read our collection development policies, and then email fales.library@nyu.edu.

General Special Collections
Downtown Collection
Marion Nestle Food Studies Collection
Riot Grrrl Collection

May I make a monetary donation to Fales?

If you'd like to help support our work, you can make a monetary donation here. We thank you!