By Maureen Richards

In academia, you get access to many­—often hundreds—of scholarly databases. They seem to be free because they are free to you. Most often, they are not. The academy pays for them. Outside of academia, what are your options? Are you limited to open web resources?

For John Jay students and faculty, and everyone else who lives, works or attends school in New York City, you can also get access to scholarly and other types of databases through the New York Public Library (NYPL), the world’s largest public library system. Currently, the NYPL provides access to over 800 databases.

NYPL has four scholarly research centers and almost 100 neighborhood branches. Everyone at John Jay is eligible for, and should consider obtaining, a NYPL card. For those who prefer to access information 24/7, the vast majority of the NYPL databases are now available remotely. (John Jay community members may also have access to the Brooklyn and Queens public library systems, which also offer remote database access.)

As shown in the graphs below, the majority (322) of the databases that NYPL lists for researchers are freely available to anyone with an Internet connection. An additional 240 online databases are proprietary and only available to NYPL library card holders, bringing the total number of databases available offsite and online to 568!

all NYPL electronic databases: a third available remotely with library card, a third available on-site, and a third freely available online

NYPL databases available from home with library card: most are newspapers

The NYPL databases provide content that is as diverse as New York City, covering a full range of ages and interests. In addition to the well known NYPL research centers, an academic user with a NYPL library card can now get remote access to a broad range of many academic sources including Academic Search Premier, Archives of Human Sexuality and Identity, the Economist Historical Archive, Literature Resource Center, Project Muse, the full archive of the New Yorker, a plethora of reference titles from Oxford and other publishers including the Oxford English Dictionary, among many other academic titles.

If you are interested in improving your technical, business and creative skills, that same library card gets you remote access to and to Mango Languages, the easy-to-use foreign language database. Flipster, the popular magazine database, is available too—and from home—provided you have a NYPL library card.

Next time you think about library resources, think about public libraries, too. If our goal is to encourage lifelong learning, we should be doing whatever we can to deepen connections to public library resources that will be available for a lifetime.


Read more from the Spring 2017 issue of Classified Information, the Library's newsletter