Reading Room Policies | Newberry

Reading Room Policies

Historic photograph of one of the Newberry’s reading rooms, at a time when electric lights were new to the building.

For the security of the Newberry’s staff, visitors, researchers, and collections, we ask you to join our efforts to create a research-friendly environment and to preserve the collections for future generations by adhering to the library’s policies. Please Contact a Librarian if you have any questions about the policies and rules below.


The Newberry has two main reading rooms: the General Collections Regenstein Reading Room (second floor), and the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections (fourth floor). The Blatchford Reference and Bibliographical Center is located on the third floor. Unless otherwise noted, the following rules apply to all three areas. Please also be aware of the Newberry’s general Rules of Conduct. For security and conservation purposes, certain items are not allowed in the reading rooms:

  • Food and beverages (including water; drinking fountains are available in the hallway on each floor)
  • Backpacks, briefcases, book bags, large handbags, laptop computer bags
  • Umbrellas
  • Outer garments
  • Scanners
  • Scotch tape or glue
  • Scissors, pocket knives, or other implements for cutting
  • Post-It notes
  • Highlighters or markers

Lockers are available on the first floor to store these items.

While using materials in the reading rooms, please follow these rules:

  • Pencils, not pens, must be used.
  • Personal digital cameras are allowed in the reading rooms, subject to certain rules and conditions.
  • Handbags must be closed and placed on the floor.
  • Books must be supported as evenly as possible to prevent strain on the bindings. Staff will provide futons, book weights, and book stands as necessary.
  • Handle library materials with clean, dry hands; staff will provide gloves as appropriate.
  • Do not mark pages or write on paper laid on top of a book.
  • Do not use ordinary paper (or Post-It notes) to mark your place in a book. Acid-free bookmarks are available at the desk.
  • If you find uncut pages, please bring the item to the service desk. Never try to cut them yourself.
  • Carefully unfold and refold maps and fold-outs. If the item is large or you are unsure of the folding sequence, see the service desk attendant for assistance.
  • Items must remain in their respective reading room. Do not take items from one room to another or exchange materials with other readers.
  • If you must leave the reading room, bring vault items to the service desk attendant, who will hold them until you return (Special Collections only).
  • During times when the Special Collections reading room is busy, items left unattended for 30 minutes will be removed from the desk, and the desk may be assigned to another reader (Special Collections only).
  • Turn off or silence your cell phone in the reading rooms. If you must receive or initiate a call while you are at the library, please leave the room and quietly conduct your phone conversation in the hallway.
  • All requested materials will be retrieved between 9 am and 4 pm, Tuesday through Friday; requests are not filled between 4 pm and 5 pm. Requested materials will be retrieved between 9 am and 12 pm on Saturdays.
  • Submitted requests will be retrieved only when readers are signed into a reading room.
  • Although it is a durable material, parchment (or vellum) needs to be stored and handled with care. Parchment materials should be viewed in the Special Collections Reading Rooms and Room 401. These are the only public rooms that have properly regulated temperature and humidity levels for parchment and are kept as consistent as possible with the optimum storage conditions of the Newberry stacks building. Occasionally the conditions are not met in the Special Collections Reading Rooms or Room 401. During this “no vellum” period, parchment is not paged until stable conditions return.

Photographing Newberry Materials for Personal Use

The Newberry allows readers to use personal cameras in the reading rooms. Photographs taken by Newberry readers may be used for individual purposes only; for information on photography for publication, please see our Rights and Reproductions page. All readers who use digital cameras to photograph Newberry materials must handle materials as described in the Reading Room Rules above as well as agree to the following conditions:

  • Photography taken by readers may be used only for personal purposes, including reference, research, and social media posts.
  • The reader accepts full responsibility for determining whether or not US copyright law protects the materials being copied and whether or not his or her use exceeds the limits of fair use.
  • All reproductions of Newberry collection materials should be accompanied by a citation, for example by including the call number from the circulation slip in the image.
  • Readers who require images for publication or broadcast should contact Digital Imaging Services at Images may not be published or broadcast in any media without prior written permission of the Newberry.
  • Use of a flash, outside lights, scanners, tripods, templates, or other equipment is prohibited.
  • The preservation needs of the material outweigh the technical limitations of the camera.
  • Materials must remain flat on the desk or in the stand/cradle provided.
  • Readers may not push on bindings, stand on tables/chairs, or hold up materials in order to obtain a better quality picture.
  • Images may not be added to the holdings of another library or archival repository.
  • Photography of other readers or library staff is prohibited.
  • The researcher will adhere to any and all of the restrictions that govern the research use of a specific collection.
  • The Newberry reserves the right to prohibit the photographing of any of its collections.

Security Cameras

The Newberry utilizes security cameras throughout the facility to enhance the protection of our resources. The cameras are monitored continuously by reading room and facilities staff, and the footage is archived.

See Reading Room Procedures for more on the processes and forms used in the reading rooms. For digital imaging service fees, see Rights and Reproductions.