Libraries Across NYC

Lab Reports, Maps


There are a lot of things New York City is known for, bagels, cheesecake, their libraries. With over 90 branches NYC has libraries for all different parts of New York. This study, however, plans to look at how these location are spread out across NYC and if the population of these areas affect the placement of these branches.


In order to create the maped graph shown below the following tools were utilized:

  • Data – the data was provided free by the Open NYC data. Three different datasets where used to create this map.
  • Carto – Carto is a pay program, though free for students using GitHub that takes geojson files and maps them on a real map using geolocation.
  • Inspirational Maps – Inspirational graphs can be found under the reference section of this piece.  Each one inspired a small piece of the map.


    1. Finding the Information – The first piece of data I found to create this visualization was a directory of libraries in the NYC area. Once that file was successfully uploaded to Carto I was able to see where these locations were. However while it did infer a few things, it did not create a whole picture.
    2. Finding Secondary Information – Due to the lack of information I sought out more information. First I was curious about neighborhoods so I found a shapefile that was able to create the neighborhoods outline.
    3. Combining Data – At this point I knew I wanted to add population in this data, knowing that would give me a good sense of the amount of people in each area surrounding the libraries locations. I was able to find a csv file with population data by neighborhoods and was able to join the data to the neighborhood data by using the neighborhood name as a connection point.
    4. Tweaking the Map – Once the two maps where laid out a picture was formed with the data. It was just a matter of changing the coloring and lettering and making sure the coloring was a good choice against the two maps.


Link to the Map 

This map shows both the population data as well as the location of many of the public branches on the New York Public Library.  The population data ranges from white (low population) to black (high population). There were certain areas where no population data could be found and those have remained uncolored. The map allows clicking on a neighborhood and it will show you the name and the population size.


The overlay of the map is a scatter plot of where the libraries in NYC are located. Each plot is a different color depending on which branch the belong to such as Queens Library or New York Public Library. When clicking on a location it allows the user to see what branch of the library it is as well as a link to the branch’s homepage.


While the data did not provide the information i had guessed it would should, it did provide some answers to how the public libraries in NYC are laid out. Though I had expected to see more of a cluster near higher populated areas, it appeared most of the library system was evenly spread out among the neighborhoods.


Using Carto was surprisingly an easy process once the data was found. The most difficult part is using this program was not being able to find data in the correct format. Though once that data was found it was easy to join the two together.


  • Bernalillo County Neighborhood Associations – This site offered a map that showed how different associations and neighborhoods with vivid color as well as with a search feature that allowed you to type in the association you wanted to find and it would zoom into it.  
  • Bernalillo County Permits – This site provided a map of what I had originally hoped to see with groupings of libraries in my originally study.  However I did end up using the helpful popups that were used on this map
  • Times – A Map of Baseball Nation – while not much of this map was used to create this map, it was the idea around itnwhere you could see big areas listed orderly.
  • Carto
  • New York Data