Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library Announces Seymour B. Durst Old York Library Online


"We're pleased with the care and attention that the Avery Library showed cataloging, digitizing, and preserving my grandfather's collection," said Helena Durst, Chief Administrative Officer at The Durst Organization. "Not only will the collection be accessible as a vital resource for Columbia University students and scholars visiting the Avery Library, the new Old York Library website will provide unprecedented public access to a unique collection that was my grandfather's passion."

The collection documents more than four centuries of New York history and includes an expansive range of collecting subjects and item types: more than 9,000 books and historical pamphlets, landbooks and serial publications; 600 maps and New York City guidebooks, thousands of brochures, theatrical and musical performance programs, and menus. The largest trove of materials in the collection are the more than 25,000 pictorial items – postcards, illustrations, photographs – that recall bygone eras, windows into lives led by New Yorkers over the passage of time, World’s Fairs and other festival events, and views of streets, parks and buildings lost from memory in a city marked by constant change.

“We are delighted to honor Mr. Durst’s important tradition of collection building with the launch of the digital library collection,” said Carole Ann Fabian, Director of the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library. “The website facilitates active use of the collection in curricular and research activities, at the same time it provides open online access for public audiences interested in New York’s history and real estate development.”

A chief goal for the website project was to enable use of collection items in an openly accessible online environment. More than 20,000 digitized items can now be viewed, downloaded, cited, and shared via the collection website. The site offers multiple discovery pathways for exploring the collection: search by keyword or mapping interface, browse all items or browse for images only, use the facet feature across the site to narrow search/browse result sets by location (city, borough, neighborhood) or by item format (books, pamphlets, maps, postcards, etc.). Visit the site here

The Durst Organization and the Old York Library Foundation made an extraordinary gift to Columbia’s Avery Library and the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation in 2011, which in part supported the development of this project as well as other GSAPP and Avery initiatives.

The Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library is one of the most comprehensive architecture and the fine arts library collections in the world. Avery collects a full range of primary and secondary sources for the advanced study of architecture, historic preservation, art history, decorative arts, city planning, real estate, and archaeology. The Library contains more than 650,000 volumes including more than 40,000 rare books, and receives approximately 1,500 periodicals. Avery’s Drawings and Archives collection includes more than 2 million architectural drawings and records. The Avery Library is home to the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals, the only comprehensive American guide to the current literature of architecture and design.  For more information, please Avery's Website.

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 13 million volumes, over 160,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff and hosts over 4.7 million visitors each year.  The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: library.columbia.edu.