The New York Public Library is one of the cornerstones of the American tradition of equal opportunity. It provides free and open access to the accumulated wisdom of the world, without distinction as to income, religion, nationality, or other human condition. It is everyone's university; the scholar's and author's haven; the statesman's, scientist's, and businessman's essential resource; the nation's memory. It guarantees freedom of information and independence of thought. It enables each individual to pursue learning at his/her own personal level of interest, preparation, ability, and desire. It helps ensure the free trade in ideas and the right of dissent.
The mission of The New York Public Library is to use its available resources in a balanced program of collecting, cataloging, and conserving books and other materials, and providing ready access directly to individual library users and to users elsewhere through cooperating libraries and library networks. The New York Public Library's responsibility is to serve as a great storehouse of knowledge at the heart of one of the world's information centers, and to function as an integral part of a fabric of information and learning that stretches across the nation and the world.