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11 a.m.–5 p.m. public. Learn more.

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Library FAQs


Frequently asked—and answered—questions.

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Changes due to COVID-19

Is the reading room open for research?

The Franke Reading Room is currently open for onsite, in-person research, but please note that access is available by advance appointment only; walk-in appointments are not possible. Appointments should be requested a minimum of one week prior to your desired appointment date. Learn more here.

What services are the Libraries offering?

Remote reference services, interlibrary loan services, and photoduplication services are available for researchers who are not able to make a research appointment. Learn more here.

Thank you for your patience as we work to restore access and services.

Preparing a Visit

Who can use the reading room?

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.

Do I need an appointment?

Yes. Access to the reading room currently is limited to researchers who have secured an advance appointment.

  • Archival research appointments for the public are available Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., and may be requested here:  Make an Appointment
  • Library research appointments for the public are available Thursdays and Fridays from 2:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m., and may be requested here:  Make an Appointment
  • Information regarding appointment availability and procedures for museum and SAIC staff is available hereSAIC students should schedule appointments using the procedures and links for requesting public research appointments.
  • Reading room capacity is currently limited to 12 researchers per session. Research appointments are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis, and will be confirmed via email by Research Center staff. 
  • Researchers must complete a pre-registration process and submit their request for materials a minimum of one week prior to arrival onsite. Information regarding this process will be provided to researchers along with their appointment confirmation. If these steps are not completed one week prior to your appointment the appointment will be cancelled. 
  • Researchers agree to follow the museum’s safety and security guidelines in addition to established reading room policies.

We encourage you to review the library catalog and the finding aids for the Ryerson and Burnham Archives collections and contact reference staff with questions prior to placing your appointment request.

Using the Libraries

What happens when I arrive?

You will need to enter the museum to access the reading room. Your appointment reminder, sent 24 hours in advance of your appointment time, may be shown at the security checkpoint at the Michigan Avenue entrance (either printed out or on your phone) to access the reading room.

No food or drink is permitted in the museum or in the reading room. Coats and outdoor jackets, umbrellas, and backpacks and bags exceeding 13 x 17 x 4 inches must be checked at the library reception desk when you check in. The reading room 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 with me to my study table?

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 requests?

Yes, although we lack the staff to perform in-depth research for remote researchers. 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 offer a donation, please contact the reference desk at

Do the libraries need interns or volunteers?

Internships and volunteer positions remain suspended. We hope to restore our intern and volunteer programs in the spring.


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