Rebecca Federman, librarian for the library's culinary collection, said the menus range from an 1843 list of foods served by the Astor House to a 2010 menu from a local Chipotle, the New York Post reported Monday.
"It's a record of what people actually ate," Federman said. "It began in 1900 and is now part of our rare-books division because it is such a unique, ephemeral collection."
The library said officials are preparing to digitize the collection with help from volunteers recruited to transcribe the dishes into an indexed database.
"With the public's help, we'll be able to generate an amazing, searchable database, where you can visualize neighborhood restaurants and prices of dishes over time," said Ben Vershbow, the project's digital producer.