Reading Room Procedures | Newberry

Reading Room Procedures

Our top priority is the health and safety of our community. To provide access to our collections safely in the reading rooms, we have adopted new precautionary measures based on guidelines from public health officials.

Appointments are now required to ensure social distancing and to allow staff to clean high-touch surfaces and equipment and quarantine collection items after use. Appointment requests must be made at least five business days in advance of your visit. Please submit a request for an appointment using this form.

When you arrive for your reading room time slot, you’ll check in with our staff in the Herget Welcome Center located on the first floor of the library. You’ll then go to either the General Collections Reading Room (on the second floor) or the Special Collections Reading Room (fourth floor), where library staff will assign you a place to sit and will provide you with the materials you requested in advance.

While you’re here, please help us maintain a safe learning environment by following our reading room policies.

The majority of the Newberry’s collections are stored in its stacks building, which is not open for browsing. Upon confirmation of reading room appointment, staff members will retrieve specific items from the stacks building, and set them up for viewing in the reading rooms on the day of the appointment. To find items in the collections, search the Catalogs and Guides.

Reading Room Schedule, Tuesday-Friday (Closed Saturday-Monday)

Reading rooms are open by appointment at 10am-1pm and 1:30pm-4pm. All requests must be placed 3 days ahead of your appointment; no new materials will be retrieved during appointments.

10 am: The first appointment blocks begin. Materials will be set up in the reading rooms, ready for viewing.

1 pm: Reading rooms close. The first appointment block for the day is finished. Researchers must leave the reading room and all materials must be left on the table. Staff will clean the desks, chairs, and all surfaces touched by visitors and staff.

1:30 pm: The second appointment block begins for the day. Materials will be set up in the reading rooms, ready for viewing.

4 pm: Reading rooms and the building close. The second appointment block for the day is finished. Researchers must leave the reading room and all materials must be left on the table. Staff will clean the desks, chairs, and all surfaces touched by visitors and staff.

At the end of your appointment block, staff will send finished materials to quarantine and place unfinished materials on hold. (See Placing Items on Hold section below)

Requesting Items

After identifying relevant items, you can request them through the online catalog or online manuscript inventories. Materials will be retrieved ahead of time and made available during your appointment. You may look at up to five items during one appointment block. General Collections items will be viewed in the second floor reading room. Special Collections items will be viewed in the fourth floor reading room. Occasionally we are unable to bring out vellum or parchment materials due to unstable environmental conditions. For more information on our vellum handling practices, please see Reading Room Policies.

For assistance with placing requests or making an appointment, email reference@newberry.org or Contact a Librarian. In both reading rooms, desk staff will be available to assist with any questions you may have.

Using Manuscripts

Most of the Newberry’s manuscript collections are housed in the Roger & Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Please note that some collections may be closed due to processing. Contact a Librarian if you have any questions about the Newberry’s manuscript collections.

Placing Items on Reserve

If you plan to consult items for more than one day, you may place items on hold. To do so, please consult the circulation desk staff in either reading room. Items will be on reserve for you. If items are not placed on reserve, they will be quarantined and unavailable for at least four days.

Open Shelves

Some items are stored on the “open shelves” in the reading rooms and Reference Center. These books are no longer self-service and must be requested at least three days ahead of your appointment, by making a manual request in Aeon. For assistance with making a manual request, Contact a Librarian. Open shelf call numbers have the following prefixes or location notes:

  • Ref: located in the Blatchford Reference & Bibliographical Center (third floor); for example: Ref BX841 .N44 2003
  • Local History Ref: located in the General Collections Regenstein Reading Room (second floor); for example: Local History Ref F548.25 .D86 2005
  • Chicago Browsing: located in the General Collections Regenstein Reading Room (second floor); for example: Chicago Browsing HA730.C5 L63 1995
  • Open Shelf Microforms: located in the General Collections Regenstein Reading Room (second floor).
  • Case Ref: located in the Roger & Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections (fourth floor)
  • Map Ref: located in the Roger & Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections (fourth floor)

For more information about rules, security and conduct, and the digital camera policy, please access Reading Room Policies. For digital imaging services, see Rights and Reproductions. Please Contact a Librarian if you have any questions.