Introduction to the Reading Room
The Lillian Goldman Reading Room, often described as the heart of the Center, is the gateway for exploring the diverse history of the Jewish people through the collections housed at the Center for Jewish History. It was designed to provide modern convenience in a dignified, traditional ambience. The open-stack collection has reference texts and general information, as well as all major publications of the Center partners.
In addition, the Reading Room has developed an extensive electronic resource library that is available through public computer terminals. Archive and library collections consist of 500,000 volumes in multiple languages (e.g., Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian, German, Polish, French) from many time periods, as well as over 100 million documents, including organizational records and personal papers, photographs, multimedia recordings, posters, art and artifacts. Professional staff is on hand six days per week to provide access to these collections and assist researchers with their work.
Fellowship programs and graduate seminars developed by the Center with the guidance of its distinguished 15-member Academic Advisory Council attract promising doctoral students in Jewish Studies. High school students come in groups to learn the rudiments of serious research. Parents bring their children to study together the fragments and memories of prior generations.
The Reading Room's open-stack collection has basic texts and general information, as well as major publications of the Center partners. In addition, the Reading Room has developed and maintains an electronic resource library that is available through the public computer terminals. Electronic bibliographies compiled by the Center for its patrons are also available on the terminals. For patrons using microfilm or microfiche the Center offers access to Scan Pro 2000 digital microfilm readers that enable patrons to save images as JPGs, PDFs and other image file formats as well as allowing for printing.
Professional staff is on hand to help researchers access the library collections (rare books and volumes covering diverse periods and languages) and the archives (millions of documents, papers, posters, photographs, media and ritual objects), which are now under the same roof for the first time. Regarding inquiries, please be patient. The average response time for email reference inquiries is 1-3 weeks. At its discretion, the Center will not fulfill inquiries that it deems unreasonable.
To speak with a librarian or archivist about your visit to the Lillian Goldman Reading Room, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, call (917) 606-8217, or click here to chat. For those patrons requiring more in-depth research assistance than can be provided on a walk-in basis, The Center for Jewish History is happy to arrange one-on-one research appointments through the book a librarian program. For more information and to schedule an appointment with a librarian, please click here.
Click to learn more about our research and reference services.
Hours of Operation
The Lillian Goldman Reading Room reference collection consisting of 3,000 titles is an open-stack collection. The remaining holdings are closed-stack materials.
The collections are available:*
Sunday from 11am - 4pm (YIVO Archives closed) **
Monday 9:30am - 7:30pm ***
Tuesday to Thursday 9:30am - 5:30pm ***
Friday 9:30am - 1:30pm (YIVO Archives closed)
* Monday-Thursday, last call for paging is 4:30pm. Friday, last call for paging is 12:30pm.
** All requests for Sunday usage must be received by 4:30pm on the preceding Thursday.
*** YIVO archives are available until 5:00pm only.
The Lillian Goldman Reading Room will be closed on July 4 & 5 for Independence Day.
To speak with a librarian or archivist about your visit to the Lillian Goldman Reading Room, please email email@example.com, call (917) 606-8217, or click here to chat.
Please follow these instructions for online requesting. It is recommended that you check with individual partner organizations for any paging/retrieval deadlines or requirements they may have.
Please read our microfilm/microfiche reader reservation policy
prior to your coming, and then call (917) 606-8217 for reservation.
Reading Room Rules & Policies
The Center for Jewish History welcomes you to the Lillian Goldman Reading Room where the collections of the constituent organizations, American Jewish Historical Society; American Sephardi Federation; Leo Baeck Institute; Yeshiva University Museum; YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, are being made available to you. Many materials, including books and periodicals, art and artifacts, photographs, personal papers and organizational records are quite fragile. Many such items are, by their very nature, one-of-a-kind. If they are lost, damaged, or defaced, the historical record that we are trying to preserve becomes that much more difficult to reconstruct.
We need your help to ensure that the items you are handling will be available to future generations of researchers. We ask users to exercise extraordinary care in handling all materials in the Lillian Goldman Reading Room. In addition, every user is expected to abide by the following policies designed to preserve the collections. Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to discuss these with our professional staff.
- A valid picture ID must be presented and left with the front desk upon entering the building, for which a Reading Room Pass will be issued prior to admittance into the Reading Room. When leaving the building, the patron will receive his/her ID upon returning the Pass to Center personnel at the front desk.
- On his/her first visit to the Lillian Goldman Reading Room, each researcher will also be required to fill out a Researcher Registration Card.
- Permitted in the Lillian Goldman Reading Room:
- Laptops without the cases
- Not permitted in the Lillian Goldman Reading Room:
- Food or beverages
- Bags, purses, folders, or cases of any kind
- Young children
- Personal books are allowed at the discretion of the reference librarians. Should you need to bring in a book of your own, see the reference staff.
- We strongly recommend you leave your cell phone/PDA in your locker. If this is untenable, it must be kept on "silent" or "vibrate", and cannot be used to take pictures of materials or the reading room.
- Should you desire to photograph materials for research purposes, please see a reference librarian for the appropriate forms. Your camera must be kept in your locker until photography permission has been granted.
- Research materials may not be removed from the Lillian Goldman Reading Room, and must be returned directly to a staff member.
- Archival boxes will be given to each researcher one at a time. Materials are to be used one folder at a time, keeping the folders flat on the table. The documents must be kept in order within folders, and the folders must be kept in order within the boxes.
- Researchers may use 2 books OR 1 rare book at a time. Certain rare materials require appointments for viewing.
- Researchers may be required to use white cotton gloves, page turners, or book cradles while handling certain materials. These special handling considerations are at the discretion of the reference librarians.
- Patrons wanting to use microfilm may be required to read and sign an acknowledgment of copyright restrictions (Title 17, “Fair Use”) before being permitted to use Center microfilm.
- If microform or digitized copies of research materials are available, these will be provided rather than the originals. Please read our microfilm/microfiche reader reservation policy prior to your coming, and then call (917) 606-8217 for reservation.
- Please note that some collections are subject to restrictions placed on the materials by donors, depositors, or staff.
- Photocopies may be obtained by filling out a Photocopy Request Form. Copies are made only by staff members.
- Photocopying services may not be possible for fragile materials. Staff reserves the right to be the final arbiter of what may be photocopied. Requests for permission to publish materials from collections must be submitted in writing. See the separate photocopy policy.
Reading Room Computer Policies
The Center provides computers for visitor use in the Lillian Goldman Reading Room and Genealogy Institute. Use of these computers is limited to:
- Consultation of electronic catalogues. Information sheets will guide you to the catalogues available through our computers.
- Internet browsing, solely to provide access to sites that are related to research in Jewish Studies and genealogical research.
- Email transmissions through your own Internet provider; the Center does not provide email accounts.
- Printers and one CD-ROM drive are available in public-access computers. Please call us to book the CD-ROM drive at 917-606-8217.
- DVD player for use with Center for Jewish History material only is available via a laptop from the IT department under the following conditions:
Kindly reserve the laptop 7 days prior to your visit noting that you will be using a DVD. In your request state from which of the partner collections the DVD will be provided (AJHS, ASF, LBI, YIVO or YUM). Before reserving, make sure you have clearance for use of the DVD from the partner organization. You may then make your reservation by calling: 917-606-8222 or via e-mail.
Users may connect their own laptop computers in the Lillian Goldman Reading Room and in the Genealogy Institute.
Two applications are available: Internet access and access to Center catalogue files. For other applications, users may bring in their own laptop computers.
Restrictions on Use of the Center's Computers
The Center's computers may not be used in any of these ways:
- Use that violates any federal, state, or local laws, including copyright law and licensing agreements.
- Use that would violate the Center's tax-exempt status.
- Attempting to access, or accessing, any Center intranet files, or downloading software, executable files, databases, or related technology, or any activities that would modify or damage Center equipment, software, or databases.
- Actions that disrupt services for Center staff, volunteers, or users, including but not limited to excessive use of computers when other users are waiting a turn.
Staff and volunteers may help you access Internet sites, but the Center is not responsible for the accuracy of Internet information.
The Center is a special-purpose institution, committed principally to Jewish studies and genealogical research, and we have a limited number of computers; therefore, visitors should browse only Internet sites related directly to those special purposes.
The Center provides unfiltered Internet access. Users are responsible for accommodating themselves to the consequences of Constitutionally protected communication, even if they might observe or hear objectionable materials while on the Center's premises. We do ask our visitors to be considerate of others regarding any electronic views or sounds that may be disturbing to others.
Parents/ legal guardians need to assume responsibility for determining what information resources they want their children to access. The Center assumes that parents/legal guardians have provided guidance to their children about Internet use.
The Center will not release information on the Internet use of any person using a Center computer; however, the Internet is not a secure medium and the Center has no control over the information that others may obtain regarding Internet use. The Center reserves the right to limit or revoke all computer, Reading Room, and/or Center Genealogy Institute privileges for users who violate Center user policy.
Photocopying Policy & Procedures
The Lillian Goldman Reading Room of the Center for Jewish History (CJH), a not-for-profit research center, is pleased to offer the public, free of charge, access to the collections of its constituent partners, American Jewish Historical Society, American Sephardi Federation, Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum, and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.
Fees are charged for services only. Funds are used to defray direct costs and to ensure the highest standards of service to the public.
The Lillian Goldman Reading Room Photocopy Charges
- $0.25 per photocopied page
Method of payment
- U.S. Dollars Checks or money orders in U.S. Dollars drawn on a U.S. A. Bank made out to: Center for Jewish History
Restrictions on Materials Permitted to be Copied
- No copying of items deemed "rare materials" by Reading Room staff.
- No fragile or brittle items.
- No bulky or cumbersome materials.
- No more than 1/3 of any publication or manuscript may be copied.
- The copying of some material requires written permission of the Donor or the author of the document. We shall inform you if this is the case.
- CJH staff members are the final arbiters of what may be photocopied.
THE COPYRIGHT LAW OF THE UNITED STATES (TITLE 17, U.S. CODE) GOVERNS THE MAKING OF PHOTOCOPIES OR OTHER REPRODUCTIONS OF COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL. UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS SPECIFIED IN THE LAW, LIBRARIES AND ARCHIVES ARE AUTHORIZED TO FURNISH A PHOTOCOPY OR OTHER REPRODUCTION. ONE OF THESE SPECIFIED CONDITIONS IS THAT THE PHOTOCOPY OR REPRODUCTION IS NOT TO BE "USED FOR ANY PURPOSE OTHER THAN PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP, OR RESEARCH." IF A USER MAKES A REQUEST FOR, OR LATER USES, A PHOTOCOPY OR REPRODUCTION FOR PURPOSES IN EXCESS OF "FAIR USE," THAT USER MAY BE LIABLE FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT. THIS INSTITUTION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO REFUSE TO ACCEPT A COPYING ORDER IF IN ITS JUDGEMENT, FULFILLMENT OF THE ORDER WOULD INVOLVE VIOLATION OF COPYRIGHT LAW.
Photocopy Request Procedures
- Researchers are encouraged to take notes whenever possible, rather than requesting photocopies.
- Researchers requesting photocopies will be asked to complete a "Photocopy Request Form" and to flag the items to be photocopied. (Acid-free strips of paper will be provided for flagging.)
- For Books: Insert strips of paper as markers, and indicate page numbers on the form.
- For Archival Material: Place a strip of paper perpendicular in front of the document you wish to have copied.
- Provide any identifying characteristic of the document on the strip of paper with your initials in pencil only.
- Photocopy services are performed by Center for Jewish History staff. Full citations are the responsibility of the researcher.
- Never remove a document from its folder!
- Bring the material (books and archival boxes) to the service desk together with your completed "Photocopy Request Form."
- Photocopy requests normally cannot be filled immediately due to high volume.
- Photocopies will be mailed to researchers with a charge for shipping and handling, or copies may be picked up in the Reading Room.
Mail Order Charges
(We reserve the right to rate changes)
- Minimum Domestic Shipping and Handling: $7.50, (under 50 pages)
- Over 50 pages: $10.00 plus 15% of order
- Minimum International Shipping and Handling: $10, with larger orders based on weight plus 15% of order
Thank you for your cooperation.