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Library FAQs


Frequently asked—and answered—questions.
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Changes in the Libraries due to COVID-19

Are the Libraries open for research?

The Ryerson and Burnham Libraries’ reading room remains closed until further notice.

What services are the Libraries offering during the closure?

All services, including reference, interlibrary loan, instruction, and photoduplication services, have been suspended until at least March 4, 2021.

Preparing a Visit

Who can use the libraries?

All researchers high-school age and above may use the library collections during our public hours. Younger researchers should contact Reference at (312) 443-3666 or to inquire about access.

Graduate students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago can obtain access to the reading room during expanded hours and stacks browsing privileges after completing a library orientation. Please contact Reference to schedule an orientation.

Do I need an appointment?

No appointment is necessary in order to use on-site library general collection materials and processed on-site collection materials in the Ryerson and Burnham Archives during our public hours. Appointments are required for access to the Institutional Archives, and these may be made by emailing

We encourage you to review the library catalog and the finding aids for the Ryerson and Burnham Archives collections prior to visiting. Some special collections materials require an appointment, which will be noted in the catalog record. Also, a growing collection of our general library collection materials are stored in offsite storage, and these require a minimum of three business days to retrieve for use in the reading room.

Some Ryerson and Burnham Archives collection materials are stored offsite. These are marked (OS) in the finding aid and require a minimum of one week to retrieve.

Email to request offsite materials or to make an appointment to view restricted special collections materials.

Using the Libraries

What happens when I arrive?

You will need to enter the museum to access the libraries. Researchers interested in specific library collection materials who will be visiting the library but not using the museum galleries may email a minimum of one week in advance of their visit to inquire about using the Info Pass program to obtain access to the reading room (though not the galleries) for a single research visit without purchasing museum admission.

No food or drink is permitted in the museum or in the library. Backpacks, coats and outdoor jackets, umbrellas, and bags exceeding 13 x 17 x 4 inches must be checked at the museum checkroom prior to entering the reading room. After checking materials proceed to the reading room, which is just inside the Michigan Avenue entrance, to the south of the Grand Staircase. Sign the reading room register and then proceed to the reference desk for assistance getting started with your research.

What can I bring into the Franke Reading Room?

You are welcome to bring in notes, pencils, USB disks, laptops, cameras, and phones (set on silent) as well as non-backpack bags that are smaller than 13 x 17 x 4 inches.

Do the libraries accept long-distance reference and photoduplication requests?

Yes, although we lack the staff to perform in-depth research for remote researchers and additional fees may apply to photoduplication requests. Please email with your request.

Giving and Volunteering

Do the libraries accept donations?

The libraries may accept donations of books, serials, and archival materials upon review.
To discuss a donation, please contact the libraries office at (312) 443-3671.

Do the libraries need interns or volunteers?

Learn about volunteer positions, including those for the libraries, and all internship opportunities, including those available in the libraries and archives.


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