To plan a visit to consult library or archival materials in person, please see our Plan a Visit page.
The Ryerson and Burnham Libraries borrow materials through interlibrary loan for museum staff only. Museum staff who require an interlibrary loan account should contact Reader Services at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an orientation to the service. This service is not available to students, members, or other outside researchers.
The library is a member of SHARES, the Research Libraries Group Shared Resources Service, and we lend materials through interlibrary loan to other SHARES institutions. Our interlibrary loan policies are available through the OCLC policies directory. Librarians seeking loans from our collection may email email@example.com with questions about interlibrary loan. Although we prefer to receive interlibrary loan requests through OCLC, we also accept requests from international and other non-OCLC libraries through email.
A variety of photoduplication options are available to researchers in the reading room. All photoduplication of library and archival materials is governed by the following policies:
- Works of art, text, and other content appearing in these reproductions may be protected by copyright or related interests that are not owned by the museum. It is your responsibility to obtain whatever copyright or other permissions may be required from an artist, the artist’s agent or estate, or any other third party rights holder. By accepting or using these reproductions, you agree to indemnify the museum and hold it harmless against any and all claims, demands, and/or actions of any nature, including the expenses thereof, arising as a result of your use of the reproductions.
- Permission to examine material does not automatically include the right to duplicate it. The Art Institute may decline a photoduplication request because the materials are oversize or too fragile, or because the extent of the request falls outside the fair use standard or beyond current staff capacity.
- Prepayment for photographic services is required for all orders.
- Researchers are not permitted to use digital scanners or professional photography equipment.
- Researchers who would like to take study photographs of materials in the archival collections must consult with the reference desk staff and complete the Permission to Photograph Archival Collections form (available at the reference desk). Restricted and unprocessed materials may not be photographed for any reason without the explicit permission of the archives staff.
Photocopies and Scans
When the reading room is open, patrons may scan general collection library materials to email or USB drive or may print copies. All materials must be approved by a reference librarian before using the scanner as some items are deemed too fragile, large, or valuable to be copied on our scanning equipment.
Archival materials, artist files, and special collections items may not be scanned on the reading room equipment.
Scans of specific content in library materials may be requested through our Interlibrary Loan service:
- Please contact your local librarian to place an interlibrary loan request on your behalf.
- Our interlibrary loan policies are available through the OCLC policies directory.
- Librarians seeking loans from our collection may email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions about interlibrary loan. Although we prefer to receive interlibrary loan requests through OCLC, we also accept requests from international and other non-OCLC libraries through email.
Outside of Interlibrary Loan requests, we are unable to provide remote scanning services.
Reading room visitors are welcome to photograph materials themselves for research purposes. Cameras without a flash may be used to photograph books and journals from the library collections. Photographing archival materials requires special permission. The use of professional photography equipment and personal scanners is not permitted in the reading room.
Orders of new and existing images from the Archives, including our Images and Media database, can be submitted using this form. Photoduplication requests for Library materials can be made via email@example.com.
- Photography orders take up to 12 weeks to complete (from the time payment is received).
- Long-distance requests are accepted, but additional fees apply.
High-resolution images are captured as 300dpi (publication quality) digital file and delivered digitally. Lower-resolution PDF scans may also be requested from the archival collections.
- Archival materials, new photography: $30 per image
- Archival materials, existing files: $15 per file
- All other materials: $15 per image
- Other fees may apply.
Photography of Art Institute of Chicago art collection materials must be requested through our Image Licensing site.
The Ryerson and Burnham Libraries and Art Institute Archives have a small staff that answers a large volume of inquiries from researchers around the world.
We recommend that you consult our research guides and discovery tools in order to make your questions as precise as possible. Our reference services are primarily intended to support researchers who require access to our specialized and unique collections. We are unable to provide in-depth research assistance to remote researchers, though we can point you to freelance researchers to assist with these types of projects.
Art Institute staff, including the staff in the libraries, may not appraise or authenticate artworks. Librarians can point you to resources that you can use to learn more about the artworks in your collection. This information on researching art and artists and this list of appraisal resources will assist you with this type of research.
When the reading room is open, reserve space is available to allow patrons to hold materials between visits. Staff at the reference desk can assist daily readers and Art Institute staff with placing materials on reserve.
- Readers who anticipate returning to use material are encouraged to place these items on temporary reserve at the reference desk.
- Readers may help themselves to reserved materials from the general collection. These items are shelved in the alcove next to the reference desk.
- Reserved materials from the archives and special collections may be requested at the reference desk.
- The reserve period is six weeks from the initial request, after which materials will be returned to the stacks if no renewal has been requested. Reserves may be renewed at the reference desk.
- Open shelf reference materials may not be placed on reserve.
- Staff reserves are for the convenience of Art Institute staff and may be established at any time.
- Staff may help themselves to reserved materials from the main collection. These items are shelved in the east alcove behind the reception desk.
- Reserved materials from the archives and special collections may be requested through the online catalog and consulted through a research appointment.
- Materials may stay on staff reserve for six months from the initial request.