May 18, 2022

Digital Collections: Columbia University’s Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library Launches Seymour B. Durst Old York Library Online

From Columbia University Libraries:

Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, announces the release of the Seymour B. Durst Old York Library digital collection and website.

With generous support from the Old York Foundation and The Durst Organization, Avery Library recently completed a three-year project to inventory, catalog, preserve and digitize the renowned Old York Library collection assembled by Seymour B. Durst. The completion of the project at this time is especially meaningful as it coincides with both Avery’s 125th anniversary year and the Durst Organization’s 100th anniversary year, and celebrates the important collaboration between the two organizations.


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.


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.).

Direct to Seymour B. Durst Old York Library Digital Collection

Read the Complete Launch Announcement

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.