The New York Public Library is one of the great knowledge institutions of the world, its myriad collections ranking with those of the British Library, the Library of Congress, and the Bibliothèque nationale de France. The combination of scholarly research collections and a network of community libraries lends to the Library an extraordinary richness. It is special also in being historically a privately managed, nonprofit corporation with a public mission, operating with both private and public financing in a century-old, still evolving private-public partnership. The Library’s collections themselves reflect the profoundly democratic and all-encompassing nature of the institution. Numbering into the tens of millions, its holdings range from the most venerable monuments of human culture, such as the Gutenberg Bible and Jefferson’s manuscript copy of the Declaration of Independence, to materials that document the everyday lives of otherwise anonymous people.

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