Using the TOFT Archive

Who May Use The Archive?

Any patron with a New York Public Library card and a Special Collections account may use TOFT. To sign-up for a card and account, please visit a branch or log-on to specialcollections.nypl.org/aeon/. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

How Can I View A Videorecording?

Videorecordings may be viewed only on-site at the Library, one time only. Currently running shows are not available for viewing. Certain titles require advance permission to view, so it is advisable to call ahead. TOFT does not lend, copy, sell, or distribute any of the videorecordings, physically or electronically, in accordance with its contracts with the various theatre unions and guilds that permit videorecording of live theatrical productions.

  • Appointments: Appointments are available Monday through Saturday and can be made in person, by telephone, or by e-mail at least one day in advance; same day appointments are not available. To request an appointment, please provide a specific title (or titles), as well as a date and time. Patrons are limited to five titles per day. Please call if you are running late. If you are more than 30 minutes late without a call, your monitor may be reassigned.
  • Walk-ins: Walk-in screens are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Walk-in viewers may only request a single title at a time. A walk-in viewer may view multiple titles if there is availability.

The Lucille Lortel screening room has 24 monitors, which can be linked in any combination for simultaneous viewing, so more than one person can view a videorecording at the same time. When calling to make an appointment to view a title please let the screening room staff know the number of people in your party. All viewers must have a library card.

How Can I Find What I Want To See?

This information may be found in the NYPL Research catalog, which is available online. We recommend choosing the Advance Search and specifying Moving Image under Format before entering your search term. All of the titles available in TOFT are in the Non-Circulating Collection and begin with the call number NCOV, NCOX, or NCOW. If you have trouble finding a title, please feel free to call or e-mail TOFT, and a staff member will be glad to assist. 

Important Change to Services

TOFT has been working  for many years on the preservation and digitization of its holdings which are on obsolete or outdated formats. There will be extended periods of time when certain titles will be temporarily unavailable for screening appointments due to this ongoing work. The largest portion of these are TOFT recordings on 3/4" U-matic videotape. This format was in standard use for many years, and a significant number of these older recordings have already been migrated, but many still require digitization. We realize the incovenience to our researchers and apologize for this necessary action to preserve our collection. Please know that we are working toward restoring access to these titles. You may call our screening room at (212) 870-1642 for updates on specific titles, or with any questions; or e-mail us at toft@nypl.org.