After carefully considering the rapidly changing situation in New York City around novel coronavirus (COVID-19), The General Society Library will be closed for the time being.

Welcome to the Library of the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen! As a subscriber, you will join thousands of other New Yorkers who have benefited from the Library since 1820.

Established in 1820 as the Apprentices’ Library, by the 19th century the Library had become the largest free circulating library in New York City. The Library space is host to our 176-year-old lecture series, which includes the Labor, Literature and Landmarks, and Artisan Lecture Series.

The Library has more than 100,000 volumes of fiction, non-fiction, trade, and technical-related research materials. The collections represent the importance placed on a broad education and illustrate urban work history.

As the second-oldest continuously operating library in New York City, the wealth of older books makes the library an excellent research facility. Its archives date back to 1785.

The Library has recently begun to automate its catalog but continues to use the card catalog and classification system created by the librarian in 1901. The main reading room soars to a height of three stories topped by a magnificent skylight.

Please click HERE for Library Member Login, Library Hours, to search the Online Catalog and other General Information regarding the Library.

Scroll down for information on joining The General Society Library.




The Library is open to the public for on-site use and research. It is one of three remaining membership circulating libraries in New York City.

All levels of contributions include:

  • Borrowing privileges from the circulating collections
  • Access to the wireless Internet connection in the Library’s Reading Room
  • Access to books and periodicals in the research collections
  • Discounted Admission to the lecture in our “Labor, Literature and Landmark” and “Artisan” lecture series.
  • Free or Reduced price admission to the events sponsored by the Library
  • Discounts on Library Merchandise

Levels of Contribution

  • Individual – $50
  • Dual  (two memberships) – $85
  • Student (with valid ID) – $25
  • Senior (65 or older) – $35
  • Friend – $75.  All basic benefits plus a gift.
  • Patron – $125.  All Friend benefits plus free admission to two lectures in our “Artisan” or “Labor, Landmarks & Literature” series.
  • Sponsor – $275.   All Patron benefits and free admission to four lectures in our “Artisan” or  “Labor, Landmarks & Literature” series.
  • Founder – $500.  All Sponsor benefits and free admission to all lectures in our “Artisan” or  “Labor, Landmarks & Literature” series.

Your contribution to the Library above the $50 rate is tax-deductible

Please click HERE to join The General Society Library.