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.

Thank you for helping us in our efforts to preserve the library collections for future generations.

We encourage you to 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. 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. Hands should be washed and thoroughly dried before each entry to a reading room.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Although it is a durable material, parchment (or vellum) needs to be stored and handled with care. Parchment materials should only be viewed in the Special Collections Reading Rooms and other 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 Room or other climate-controlled rooms. During this “no vellum” period, parchment is not paged until stable conditions return.

Photographing Newberry Materials in the Reading Rooms

The Newberry allows researchers to use personal cameras in the reading rooms. All researchers who use digital cameras to photograph Newberry materials must handle materials as described in the Reading Room Policies as well as agree to the following conditions:

  • The researcher will adhere to any and all of the restrictions that govern the research use of a specific collection.
  • The Newberry makes its collection available for anyone to use for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial, without licensing or permission fees to the library. Use of reproductions of Newberry collection items shall be at the user’s sole risk. Researchers are responsible for determining if the material is in public domain or whether the intended use is within the limits of fair use. If copyright law or other restrictions protect material being used, researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from any rights holders. The Newberry shall not be responsible or liable for any claim of infringement or damage that may occur due to the use of any material that the Newberry makes available. See Rights and Reproductions for more information.
  • Personal digital photographs may not be adequate for some online or print publication uses. For information on obtaining high-resolution digital files, contact Digital Services. There are service costs associated with fulfilling requests for high-resolution digital files.
  • Please cite as Newberry Library, Chicago [+call number or collection name].
  • Use of a flash, additional lighting, scanners, tripods, templates, or other equipment is prohibited.
  • Materials must remain flat on the desk or in the stand/cradle provided. Researchers may not push on bindings.
  • Researchers may not stand on tables/chairs.
  • Photography of other researchers or library staff is prohibited without permission of the Newberry and those being photographed.
  • If you are consulting an item that has been identified as culturally sensitive, please see our statement on Culturally Sensitive Indigenous Materials.
  • The Newberry reserves the right to prohibit photographing of any of its collection materials.

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 information and service fees, see Rights and Reproductions.