Inside the Secrets of NYPL’s Underground Stacks


The New York Public Library holds more than 16 million volumes, making it the 4th largest library in the United States. Many of those volumes are stored in the Milstein stacks, two levels of the library directly under Bryant Park. To maximize the storage capacity of these facilities and allow for patrons in the main library above ground to request volumes on site, the NYPL turns to some interesting technology. Gothamist recently toured the facility, showing off the inner workings of the knowledge vaults ordinarily reserved for library staff.

Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at More from this author →