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Syracuse University Libraries

Architecture: Resources for the NYC Architecture Program

Books and other resources added to the Syracuse University Library collections

Overview of Access Options

Syracuse University Libraries

Students in the NYC studio have off-site access to the SU Libraries catalog and electronic databases. The Libraries is not able to send books to students, though upon request book chapters or periodical articles within copyright will be scanned and sent electronically. This process is handled through the ILL/delivery system. Please allow 48 hours turnaround time. At present, students should use the regular ILL form to make a book chapter scan request. The same process applies to periodical articles.

Students are also able to remotely access SUL subscription full-text databases like JSTOR as well as citation databases like the Avery Index. Use of the Avery Index will enable students to locate information which then may be scanned through SUL or located at NYC libraries.

Periodical articles not held by the Syracuse University Libraries can be obtained through regular Interlibrary Loan procedures.

Students needing reference assistance for their research should email Barbara Opar at Citations will be provided and within copyright periodical articles or book chapters will then be scanned and provided to the students to help facilitate their work. Please allow 48 hours.

New York Public Library: access and circulation of select items

Any person who lives, works, attends school or pays property taxes in New York State is eligible to receive a New York Public Library card free of charge.

Students may either apply online or in person at any New York Public Library location or Library sponsored event.

A valid identification must be presented before using the card to borrow materials, download eNYPL content, search Library databases, or reserve a computer.

In-person applicants and online applicants who reside in the New York Metropolitan Area (the five boroughs, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties), must present an accepted form of identification when picking up the card.

Library card applicants from areas of NY State outside of the Metro NY area may email scans or copies of the required forms of identification to Alternatively, this information may be faxed to (212) 621-0278.

Patrons are responsible for returning borrowed items on time, and for any fines and fees associated with overdue or non-returned items. A receipt indicating the date due is issued with every item borrowed.

Please note that the Library card alone does not allow access to certain Special Collections; check with the appropriate division for details.

Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University: access only

Because Syracuse University Library is a member of SHARES, faculty, students and staff have on-site access to Avery collections and services.

SU faculty/students/staff should first present their valid SU ID and driver’s license to Butler Library, where they will be issued a pass that can be used in the Columbia libraries. Photo identification may be requested if the ID does not include a photograph.

In-library use of material is permitted, but SHARES members are not granted borrowing privileges.

Visitors will receive the same degree of access accorded their peers at the host institution; for example, visiting faculty will be granted local faculty privileges.

Access to special or restricted collections or materials may be possible if arranged in advance.

Researching a topic

1.  Begin your search by subject or keyword. Keyword anywhere is a very broad-based search, which looks for words located anywhere in the record. The keywords visual notes will return all of the items that contain the words visual and notesin the title, author if appropriate, subject heading, table of contents, or publisher fields. Scan the entries retrieved by a keyword search and use the detailed record display to locate relevant subject headings.  The limited subject heading search returns a browsable list of items with the exact Library of Congress subject heading. It is a more refined search, and will return a more limited number of entries than the keyword search.

2.  Check related subject headings and topics to obtain additional information.  It may be necessary to broaden or narrow your search depending on the topic and kinds of information these searches return.

3.  This same strategy should be used in researching an architectural work, building type or style.

Finding information about an architect

1. Begin your research by searching Classic Catalog by subject (or keyword).

2. If the search is unsuccessful, go back and check your information. Have you entered the name correctly?  Spelling counts.

3. Check sources like the biographical directories listed above.  An architect’s name may have variant spellings or be listed under a pseudonym. For example, Ferdinando Galli Bibiena is listed under Galli Bibiena, not Bibiena.

4. Check the periodical indexes.

5. Redefine your search.  Redo your search on Classic Catalog and in the indexes.  Look for material on the time period, style of architecture, location or building type if you are unable to locate a specific source on the architect.

6. Check appropriate web sites. Please note few web sites include interiors, plans or details.

Finding information about a building

1. The manner in which a building may appear in a particular resource can vary  from the information you have been given. Consider, for example, alternate building names.

2. In some instances, there may be a book devoted to the study of the specific building.  Check Classic Catalog by keyword.

3. Remember, however, that only a small percentage of buildings have been studied in such detail.  By searching only for books on the specific building, you may be eliminating important studies on the architect.

4. Identify the name of the architect.  If not immediately available, check the Macmillan Encyclopedia index, a city guide or history of the time period/style to try and find this information. If successful, search Classic Catalog and the appropriate indexes by the name of the architect to locate your material.

5. Anonymous or vernacular buildings can only be searched by location, time period, or style as appropriate.

6. When searching by location of the building or work, remember that in many instances the entry will be filed under location first (normally country, then city).

7. Book or journal articles often only show selected works by an architect. Look for books showing the complete works, or books devoted to a specific time period or type of work by the architect.

8. Check more general sources like architectural histories or books on a time period, particular style, building type, or location to collect information about the specific work.

9. Follow the same strategy in the periodical indexes, beginning with a keyword search on the building or combination of architect and specific work.

10. Narrow or broaden your search as necessary.

11. Check specialized resources like the Historic American Buildings Survey or National Register of Historic Places as appropriate

Books on New York City

Reference Assistance

Need help using Syracuse University Libraries' architecture or related resources? Have a reference question related to locating resources or finding information about an architect or NYC building? Reference assistance is available via email by contacting Barbara Opar at

Reference Tools and Resources

Building Codes

NYC Building Code


Census Information/Demographics

New York City Direct Me Site

SUL Census Guide



Digital Sanborn Maps

New York Public Library Mapwarper


News and Current Events

ProQuest Historical Newspapers - The New York Times (1851 -2010)

ProQuest Historical Newspapers - The New York Times (1851 - Present)

ProQuest Historical Newspapers - The Wall Street Journal (1889 - 1996)



Planning Resources

Early New York Real Estate Maps

HAB Survey

New York City Planning Department

New York City Zoning Maps

New York City Property Information

National Register of Historic Places

Researching Historic Buildings in New York City