Owing to current circumstances, The General Society Library will be closed for the time being, however, however, members are able to request and pick-up books as well as return books.  Please contact the General Society Library at info@generalsociety.org to make arrangements.

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 183 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 collection represents the importance placed on a broad education and illustrates 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.


All levels of Library Membership include the following benefits:

  • Borrowing privileges for the Library’s circulating collections.
  • Access to Wi-Fi in the Library’s Reading Room (please note the Library is currently closed to visitors).
  • Access to books and periodicals in the research collections (please note while the Library is closed, access to the research collections is limited).
  • Discounted Admission to the lectures in our “Labor, Literature and Landmark” and “Artisan” Lecture Series.

Levels of Support

  • Individual – $50
  • Dual (two memberships) – $85
  • Student (with valid ID) – $25
  • Senior (65 or older) – $35
  • Friend/Supporter – $75: Complimentary admission to one lecture.
  • Patron – $125: Complimentary admission to two lectures.
  • Sponsor – $275: Complimentary admission to four lectures
  • Founder – $500: Complimentary admission to all lectures.

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

Please click HERE to join The General Society Library.