CUNY's PhD programs have been supported from their beginnings by NYPL collections, services, and spaces. In 1962 CUNY became a doctoral degree-granting university, and the CUNY Graduate Center opened in the W.R. Grace Building on 42nd Street, just across from the NYPL Research Libraries' Main Branch, now called the Stephen A. Schwarzman building, or SASB. Throughout the GC's history, NYPL has been CUNY's research library.
In 1968, CUNY Chancellor Albert H. Bowker and CUNY Graduate Studies Dean Mina S. Rees, backed by the CUNY Council of Chief Librarians, sought a formal arrangement with NYPL to support CUNY's new doctoral programs. They enlisted the American Council of Leaned Societies (ACLS) to outline the mutual benefits of such a collaboration: CUNY doctoral scholars would secure access to a world-class research library, and NYPL, a private not-for-profit corporation dedicated to public service, would be compensated annually by CUNY's funders. This relationship continues to this day in the form of New York State Library funding to NYPL to support CUNY doctoral programs.
During the 1970s and 1980s, NYPL provided CUNY PhD students and faculty with study carrels and reserve shelving at NYPL, access to special collections and to pre-cataloged books, and expedited photocopying. GC affiliates enjoyed NYPL's robust interlibrary loan, reference service, and GC faculty contributed to NYPL purchase decisions. The GC Library displayed updated printouts of NYPL acquisitions and NYPL dictionary catalogs in the GC reference collection. NYPL's membership in the Research Libraries Group (RLG) allowed GC scholars to borrow material from the nation's largest libraries through NYPL's interlibrary loan. CUNY graduate students and faculty occupied a majority of the NYPL's Wertheim room into the 1990s, and CUNY scholars still populate NYPL scholarly study areas in healthy proportion.
The GC Library's eresource collections developed independently from NYPL over the 1980s and 1990s as vendors licensed scholarly resources exclusively to particular constituencies. GC library electronic collections grew as GC library funding increased. Throughout the 2000s library networks also expanded the range of discoverable materials in collaboratively sourced library catalogs and sped delivery of scanned material, even to scholars unaffiliated with research libraries. The 2006 introduction of intra-CUNY libraries borrowing deepened CUNY support for graduate programs. With the growth of library networks, particularly the Center for Research Libraries and the IDS Project, GC scholars can obtain exponentially more than before.
GC - NYPL services advanced significantly in 2011 when GC and NYPL library administration agreed that PhD students should borrow books from the NYPL research collections. Simultaneously, NYPL began to expand to off-site database access to researchers who logged in with NYPL borrowing cards. Since 2013, NYPL has participated in the GC's yearly OneStop registration to supply all new students with borrowing cards for access to NYPL books and databases alike.
NYPL with Columbia and NYU also opened the MaRLI consortium in 2011, with NYPL embracing Graduate Center PhD students and faculty as its primary academic constituents. NYPL's MaRLI partnership brokers GC borrowing access to NYU and Columbia collections and on-site use of NYU and Columbia databases. And, NYPL's MaRLI participation reflects CUNY interests in the humanities in selecting resources to license in its contribution to MaRLI.
In 2015, NYPL boosted interlibrary loan delivery of NYPL titles to the GC Library, allowing GC interlibrary loan borrowers to request delivery of NYPL books for research-friendly 120-day loans (subject to recall by other borrowers). With this, CUNY GC users may borrow directly from the NYPL research libraries using NYPL catalogs with NYPL library cards, or they can use GC interlibrary loan to request books for pickup at the GC.
In 2016 NYPL and GC improved online access for certain NYPL collections to GC scholars, availing NYPL resources to GC users through the GC Library discovery platform GC credentials. Discovery through the GC OneSearch platform simplifies and eases access by allowing researchers to find NYPL proprietary eresources through the GC platform. In this way, NYPL and the GC coordinate eresource collection purchases, allowing CUNY scholars access to a wider array of eresources without requiring physical access in NYPL libraries. This initiative continues to develop.
Together, GC and NYPL librarians collaborate to avail GC students to the best of archival collections, contemporary library services, and interrogation of research practices.
"The development of a permanent rapprochement between the Graduate School and the New York Public Library — with a long-range commitment of public funds under an agreement that would permit the university’s cooperation in the development of those NYPL policies that affect its research collections — should be one of the Graduate School’s top priorities for the near future."
– Mina Rees. The First Ten Years of the Graduate School of the City University of New York. August 1972, p. 10.