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Brooklyn Public Library's Brooklyn Collection documents the history of Brooklyn from pre-colonial times to the present. A unique resource for the study of Brooklyn’s social and cultural history, the Brooklyn Collection is a distinct division of Central Library, and is BPL's only collection of archival and rare book material. Founded as a small book collection attached to the Library’s History Division, it has become the world’s largest public archive for the study of Brooklyn’s social and cultural history in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Documenting every aspect of the borough’s past in a variety of media, our holdings include more than 5,000 books, 200,000 photographs, manuscripts, newspapers, maps and atlases, directories, prints, illustrations, sheet music, posters and ephemera. Our holdings are continually growing, and contemporary news items related to Brooklyn are added to our files daily.

The Collection documents the ongoing life of the Brooklyn community through exhibits, programming and outreach efforts.


Our hours vary from the Central Library, please see sidebar for Brooklyn Collection division hours.

While we welcome walk-ins, we recommend that you submit a research request, contact the Collection at [email protected] or call 718.230.2762 before visiting. With advance notice, our staff can plan ahead by setting aside materials for your use. An appointment is required for access to original photographs, rare manuscripts and certain historical ephemera.

Accessing Materials

Please feel free to walk in during our open hours to visit our browsing collection and view our exhibits. The Brooklyn Collection research space is a designated quiet area with Wi-Fi access and outlets at each desk space. Our materials do not circulate. Identification, such as a driver’s license, school ID, or library card, is required to access all materials except those in our browsing section.

An appointment is required for access to original photographs, archival collections and certain historical ephemera. We do not page material after 6 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. While using our archival materials all bags and coats must be stored in the provided lockers. For more information about our rules for use, or about making an appointment, please contact us via email at [email protected] or by calling 718.230.2762. 

Reproduction and Rights Information

Many of our materials cannot be photocopied, items can only be photographed without flash. Patrons with a Brooklyn Public Library card can photocopy certain materials for a small fee. Patrons may make copies of documents from the Brooklyn Collection for educational, research and personal use. Brooklyn Collection staff can also provide copying and scanning for the public, at additional cost. The collection may refuse to permit copying if the material is fragile and may be damaged.

The Brooklyn Collection does not own reproduction rights to all materials in its collection. Patrons are responsible for proper use and attribution of copyrighted materials and agree to indemnify the Brooklyn Collection and the Brooklyn Public Library from any action involving infringement of the rights of an author, his or her heirs, and descendants in common law or under statutory copyright. 

For editorial and commercial use, additional fees may apply. For more information regarding educational, personal and commercial image usage please click here.

To purchase images from our collection please click here to access our order form.

Citing our Material

Please use the following format to cite our material:

[Item and date (if available)], Box number, Folder number, Name of collection, Brooklyn Collection, Brooklyn Public Library   

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