The mission of The New York Public Library is to use its available resources in a balanced program of collecting, cataloging, and conserving books and other materials, and providing ready access directly to individual library users and to users elsewhere through cooperating libraries and library networks.
The history of The New York Public Library begins more than 100 years ago. As the 19th century drew to a close, New York, the greatest city in America, still had no real public library. But thanks to a handful of visionaries and millions upon millions of users, The New York Public Library today is internationally recognized as one of the world's great libraries. The Library's importance is a function not only of its sheer size and scope, but also of its unique character. It is the only library that features both world-acclaimed research centers and a large network of neighborhood branch libraries, all of which may be used by the public, free of charge.