There are a significant number of digital, online records available for genealogical research at the New York public library. Here is a description of the collections:
The Milstein Division of United States History, Local History & Genealogy is one of the largest genealogical collections free and open to the public. Following is a selective list of resources, with an emphasis on New York City. Unless noted, all sources are located in the Milstein Division (Room 121). Many of the microform titles are self-service in the Milstein Microform Reading Room 119.As with many of the major libraries in the United States, their online digital resources are available primarily only to patrons who are physically present in the library. In some cases, remote access can be obtained by having a library card or paying an extra fee. It is important to review the list of resources because it may well be that many of them are available either in your local library or in a Family History Center.
Searching the catalog for items of interest may be beneficial in making a decision as to whether to travel to the library for on-site research. As is the case here with the New York Public Library, some of the databases listed are subscription-based and free access is granted for searches made within the library itself. As a comparison, there are only a few items listed on the New York Public Library website that are not also available through the Brigham Young University Family History Library in Provo, Utah. However, from a researcher's standpoint, the items that are not generally available may be worth a trip to the library.
The Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History, and Genealogy collection is described as follows:
The Milstein Division's book and serial collections are supplemented by materials in other formats. Visual resources include photographic and negative collections, primarily of New York City views, and over 100,000 postcards documenting United States local views. A local history ephemera collection of provides primary study materials for the cultural, social, and religious history of the United States. The Milstein Division also collects political campaign ephemera, including broadsides, and pamphlets. Vertical files and genealogical charts further enhance the holdings of The Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy.When confronted with a description like this, the genealogical researcher may feel like he or she is going on a fishing trip without knowing whether or not the fish are in the lake.
The NPL also has over 300,000 e-books and audiobooks available to library cardholders. Genealogists are not being discriminated against. Every library in the United States has some restriction on access by the general public. Most Access restrictions focus on property ownership within the area served by the library. In addition, many other libraries such as the NPL, require residency in the state of New York but in order to obtain a license or library card, you must live, work, attend school or pay property tax in New York State.
Here are the first parts of this series: