About our library system

CUNY’s library system is a federation of 28 libraries and the CUNY Central Office of Library Services (OLS), which supports the university’s libraries so that they may better serve students and faculty.  At each college, the library plays a major role in supporting academic programs, teaching and learning, and facilitating the curricular and research activities of faculty and students. 

CUNY’s libraries are dedicated to advancing the teaching and research mission of the colleges by providing a wide variety of collections, services, technologies and facilities.

Taken as a whole, the system has:

More than 7.5 million print volumes;

Several hundred thousand e-books;

850 full-time employees working in our libraries, including about 350 librarians, who are also faculty, and other professional staff.

And each year:

We complete circulation transactions in excess of 4 million;

Have 14 million people physically enter the libraries with millions more accessing the libraries electronically;

Reference librarians respond to approximately 500,000 reference questions;

We spend about $55 million on libraries.  Close to $15 million per year is spent on materials with more and more being spent on electronic materials.


CUNY faculty and students may use and borrow materials from any of the University’s libraries regardless of their college affiliation.  CUNY’s libraries also lend devices, such as laptops, calculators and digital cameras, to support student work.  Besides the many electronic resources that CUNY Central makes available to the CUNY community, all colleges enter into their own licensing agreements adding resources that reflect each of their curricular specialties. 

CUNY’s libraries continue to be popular destinations for our largely commuter campuses.  Many CUNY libraries also lend electronic resources but have not eliminated the need for students to use the physical space of the library, or the need for face-to-face consultations with library faculty and staff.  Many of our libraries have also been reconfiguring space to provide more group study spaces to facilitate collaborative learning.  The college libraries typically work closely with offices of student services to provide assistive technologies such as screen magnification or text readers to students with disabilities.  CUNY’s libraries strive to provide an appropriate blend of “high tech and high touch” to deliver services that students and faculty need to complete their work.