Scope and arrangement
The Free Circulating Libraries Records consist of the records of the various independent circulating libraries that consolidated with The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations. These records cover the period prior to each library's consolidation with NYPL. The majority of the records in this collection are from the New York Free Circulating Library, the Aguilar Free Library and the Webster Free Library. There are also a few items from Cathedral, Harlem, Maimonides, New York Free Circulating Library for the Blind, and Tottenville Libraries.
The Free Circulating Libraries records are arranged in thirteen series:
- 1886-19037 boxes
The Records of the Aguilar Free Library Society cover the period of its independent existence from 1886 to 1903, with the bulk of the material falling into the period 1891-1902. The collection is divided into two subseries: A. Board of Directors; B. Librarian.
- 1894-19045 Boxes
General Files include Library Committee minutes, statistics on circulation, membership, attendance and acquisitions, and a Journal of Events. Children's Work files comprise a single volume entitled Books Interesting to Girls - Large and Small prepared by Edwin White Gaillard. This contains pages pasted into a scrapbook which gives the librarian's recommendations for fiction and non-fiction books for younger and older girls. Accession Registers record author, title, publication data, classmark (after May 1897), source, and cost of books. The entries also record when volumes were discarded, transferred or lost. Approximately one-half the entries record how many times the book circulated before it was worn out. This is one of the few records that provides evidence of the popularity of individual items.