Frequently Asked Questions | Newberry

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

Does the Newberry host wedding reception rentals?

The Newberry is not currently available to accommodate full scale wedding reception rentals. If you have your heart set on the Newberry, we can offer shorter event options. These options include standalone ceremony or ceremony and cocktails, as well as special event photography sessions for every occasion. Please inquire for more information.

How can I obtain information on renting space at the Newberry?

Contact the Events Office for further information (, or (312) 255-3595), and a staff member will send you our rental information immediately so you can begin planning your event today! We encourage you to make inquiries early, as spaces are filled well in advance.

What are the available rental times and hours?

Exclusive rental is available Monday through Saturday for events starting at 6 pm. Rental fees for exclusive use change seasonally; ask us about off-peak pricing.

Non-exclusive rental is available during business hours, Tuesday - Saturday for events starting at 8 am. Corporate and social luncheon/meeting spaces are available during library operating hours. Rental fees are dependent on the open hours of the building; please inquire for an accurate quote.

How many guests can I have?

Ruggles Hall comfortably accommodates 150-160 guests for dinner with program, though can go up to 200 for simple dinner, or 300 for a cocktail reception. The lobby accommodates 80 for dinner seating and 160 for a cocktail reception. Please inquire for capacities of other spaces.

Is the library accessible?

Yes! The Newberry Library has multiple accessible entrances, elevators, and restrooms in compliance with ADA guidelines and expectations. Please let us know how we can be of assistance in planning for your guests.

Is there a price difference between on/off season or Saturdays vs Fridays?

Yes, Newberry does offer lower rental rates for Fridays and Saturdays, as well as off-peak rental rates for certain times of the year. Please contact us for further details.

Will someone from the library be onsite the day of my event?

Absolutely! An experienced Newberry represetative will be onsite as your venue manager, assisting with vendor arrivals, load-in, set-up, event execution, teardown, and load-out. The Newberry also provides representatives from our Facilities department, and 1 - 2 security guards to monitor cameras, entrances, and exits throughout the entire event.

Where can my guests park?

For exclusive use rentals, the Newberry includes use of our adjacent lot containing 35 parking spaces. For non-exclusive use rentals, limited parking spaces may or may not be available in our lot. For additional parking needs the Newberry offers discounted parking at a nearby garage, 100 W Chestnut. With our guard’s validation of the ticket, pricing is $11 for 6 hours or less, or $13 for 8 hours or less.

Do you provide sound/AV equipment?

Newberry includes all built-in AV equipment with your rental fee. Generally this includes: projector, projector screen, microphones, amplification, mic stands, and a podium. Newberry does not charge an AV use fee, however strongly recommends clients hire an AV Technician to manage, troubleshoot, and support all tech needs during your event. Newberry also requires a two-week advance testing of requested equipment. AV Technician recommendations are available upon request.

What furniture is provided? Do you provide any extra décor?

We provide a comfortable formal chairs, a plethora of round dinner tables, cocktail tables, and many 6’ and 8’ rectangular tables, as well as coat racks and podiums. We also provide some décor such as candles for the staircase in the Lobby and the window alcoves in the corridors and event spaces. Other décor may be available upon request.

Is there a piano?

Yes, we can provide a an upright Yamaha piano or Yamaha baby grand piano for use at your special event. For a nominal fee, Newberry can arrange a special tuning at you request. Please ask for more information if you desire to incorporate our piano into your event.

Will the exhibition galleries be open?

Yes. Newberry’s permanent exhibition gallery will be available year-round for guests to enjoy during a portion of your special event here. We do not allow food or drinks inside the galleries.

Does the Newberry offer any unique gifts for my guests?

Your guests will remember your event long after they leave. The Newberry Bookshop is proud to offer a wide variety of unique reminders of your Newberry event; from literary gifts, cards, and toys by local artisans to our exceptional note card, journal, and postcard assortment (and, of course, stellar books).

Looking for a souvenir to commemorate your visit to the Newberry? It would be our pleasure to help you find just the right item, from notebooks bearing the Newberry logo to one-of-a-kind de-accessioned objects from the Newberry holdings.

For more information, call (312) 255-3520 or email, or let us know and we can help arrange a bookshop visit to see our merchandise selection.

Does the Newberry have preferred hotel partners?

Yes. The Newberry has a list of preferred hotel partners which offer special group rates to our rental clients. When booking rooms, please mention the Newberry’s preferred rate. As room rates fluctuate throughout the season, please contact the hotel directly for the most current information. Please inquire for a list of local hotel partners.

Do you have preferred caterers?

Yes. At the Newberry, we have a list of exclusive caterers that have excellent reputations for taking great care of our clients. They are all in the “moderate” price range (typically $100-$125/per person for full service event with all standard provided equipment, glassware, and linens), not including alcohol, depending on how extravagant you would like your menu. Please inquiry for a list of our exclusive caterers

What if I need a kosher caterer or have a specific caterer in mind?

Newberry is able to consider exception to our exclusive catering list to accommodate Kosher, Halal, and other dietary needs if and when the proposed caterer is able to provide proof of all Newberry required licensing and insurance minimums; If approved by Newberry leadership prior to contract signing, an exception use fee will be assessed (to be paid by client, caterer, or a combination). Any exception use caterer must be pre-approved by the Newberry prior to contract signing.

Who is in charge of setting up or tearing down the event?

Your catering staff. As all of the caterers on our list are very familiar with working in our space, they will provide all of your event staffing, as well as rentals like glassware and linens.

Can I bring in my own alcohol?

Yes. The preferred BYOB providers for the Newberry are Prestige, Mainstreet, and Garfields, though Binny’s or another provider can also be arranged with a timed delivery. Alcohol must be handled and served by certified bartenders and with a current liquor license. Generally, your caterers provide the bartending staff and liquor license, set-up, serve, and break-down your bar. Shots are not permitted at the Newberry.

Are there any vendor restrictions? For example, am I permitted to bring my own vendors?

Aside from caterers, you are welcome to use any of our suggestions for vendors (available upon request). We allow you to bring in other vendors, so long as they meet our requirements. We ask that you advise us of your selected vendors before you sign a contract, so that we may be sure they carry appropriate insurance and are prepared to work within the limitations of our historic building.

What’s your open flame policy?

As a special collections library, we have to be very careful about fire. We do allow votive/enclosed candles as long as the flame is below the level of the glass. All candles must be at least 1 foot off of the floor, and taper candles are not allowed.

Does the library have liability insurance?

The Newberry does have liability insurance, however, Newberry requires that all vendors performing in our building provide proof of insurance that meet our specifications. We reserve the right to change our requirements for any event. Certain events will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine if additional insurance is necessary.

Are there any spaces that are off limits?

The library’s reading rooms will be closed and off limits. All rooms except the lobby, galleries, restrooms, and designated event spaces are off limits to guests.

What’s your cancelation policy?

All payments are considered non-refundable. However if we are able to re-book your date we will return all payments, except for an administration fee. If we are unable to rebook your space, a refund will not be possible. Events may be rescheduled, pending availability; You will be responsible for any difference in the rental fee, plus an administration fee. If an event is cancelled or attendance is significantly limited due to a public health/safety emergency declared by the City of Chicago, and/or the State of Illinois, and/or the Center for Disease and Control and Prevention, Newberry will postpone to any mutually agreeable date, applying any non-refundable payment ts to that future event.