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Het Nieuwe Instituut collects publications about Dutch and international architecture, urban design, and related design fields such as housing, spatial planning, landscape architecture, and interior architecture. The main emphasis is on the modern era, from the 19th century onwards. Besides architecture and urbanism, Het Nieuwe Instituut also collects information on art, photography, digital culture and design, as well as on social topics such as globalization, media, the network society, and the amusement industry. By staying in touch with these trends, Het Nieuwe Instituut aims to take a broader perspective of developments that are relevant to designing the space around us.

The library collection contains around 65,000 books and brochures, and 1,300 magazine from the Netherlands and abroad, including 40 ongoing subscriptions. The audiovisual collection contains around 550 video tapes, DVDs, CDs and audio cassettes, and has recently been digitised. Het Nieuwe Instituut also houses a collection of rare 20th-century books and magazines and 18th- and 19th-century folios. The collection grows by around 10 metres a year, not only through acquisitions from (antiquarian) bookshops, but also through donations by institutions and private individuals, and the acquisition of libraries from the estates of Dutch architects. In 2013, when the NAI transitioned into Het Nieuwe Instituut, the core of the acquisitions policy remained architecture and urban planning. The collection is still a secondary resource for research, alongside the primary resource of the State Archive for Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning. In addition, acquisitions are made for the longterm research projects Things and Materials, Landscape and Interior, and the disciplines Design and Digital Culture. The composition of the library is thus gradually adapting to the institute’s current mission. Both internal and external researchers have access to the resources that underpin Het Nieuwe Instituut’s programme.