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Reading Room left entry side


Members of The Center for Fiction may reserve library books for onsite retrieval and return on our first floor. Pick-up/drop-off is available every day from 11am to 7pm.

Book requests can only be accepted by logging into the library catalog with your member number and password and requesting the items directly through the catalog OR by emailing Head Librarian, Allison Escoto at Due to limited staffing these are the only ways to ensure your request is received.

All currently checked out library materials will revert to regular loan periods:

  • New books: 14-day loan with two renewals (except when there are pending hold requests)
  • Regular collection: 21-day loan with two renewals (except when there are pending hold requests)

Please return any checked out items to our first floor cart (located to the right of the café counter). All returned items will be quarantined from the collection for 48 hours.

“The library is an arena of possibility, opening both a window into the soul and a door onto the world.”
—Rita Dove

The Center for Fiction’s library has its roots in possibility. Originally known as the Mercantile Library of New York and founded in 1821, its mission was to provide the workers of New York City a space for education and conversation. Our current library continues to foster this tradition through our award-winning fiction collection, where you can find the newest releases alongside classics and rare books. The library is an integral part of the Center’s mission to promote and celebrate the art of fiction. Become a member today for access to our stellar collection and start exploring the possibilities!

Questions about the library?

Head Librarian

Allison Escoto


Browse our catalog of over 70,000 titles currently in our library here.

The current collection, composed of books published in the last year, is shelved in the Member Lounge on the 2nd floor. The older fiction is shelved in open stacks throughout all three levels of our Center. A small portion of our fiction, non-fiction, and biography collections are currently housed in a storage facility offsite but can be requested by members.

Literary Fiction


Literary Fiction

Our literary fiction collection includes a wide range of classic and contemporary fiction, from both independent presses as well as large publishers. Each year, the Library adds about 1,000 new fiction titles.




Our fiction collection is particularly strong in the area of mystery. Honored with a Raven Award from the Mystery Writers of America in 2000, the Center’s library holds about 16,000 volumes of mystery and suspense titles. This is a circulating collection and contains some of the first mystery and detective novels published in Britain and in the United States, as well as all the newest mystery and detective fiction from around the world.




Our nonfiction collection contains a selection of nonfiction books related to the art of fiction, including titles in literary criticism, biography, and books on reading and writing.