How a Non-Circulating Library Works

We're open to the public. But we're not part of the Chicago Public Library system. (That may be a little confusing, we know.) As an independent research library with a non-circulating collection, we make our resources available on site to anyone who's curious about the past.

Requesting Materials

Once you've signed up for a Newberry reader's card, you can use our online catalog to make requests through your reader's account.

The Newberry collection is stored in a climate-controlled closed stacks building. This means you don't have to find what you're looking for on open shelves. A library staff member will bring collection items to you.

When you check in with us in the reading rooms, we'll give you a place to sit and retrieve your requested items. Delivery times are usually between five and 15 minutes. You can request materials until an hour before the reading rooms close.

Learn about how to use the Newberry’s online catalog and other tools to search the collection.

Placing Items on Reserve

As a non-circulating library, we make our collection available to researchers in the Newberry reading rooms only. While you're not able to take that letter by Michelangelo home with you, we're happy to put it on hold so you can view it the next time you visit.

Talk to reading room staff if you plan to use the same collection item (or items) on more than one visit.

Handling Materials

Believe it or not, the safest way to handle most items in our collection is with clean, dry hands. Gloves are required for only a few types of materials, such as photographs.

Newberry reading room staff will advise you on the right way to engage with your requested items.

Rules of the Reading Rooms

For the security and preservation of our collection, the following items are not allowed in the reading rooms. Please store them in the lockers available on the first floor of the library.

  • Food and beverages
  • Backpacks, briefcases, and large handbags
  • Coats
  • Umbrellas
  • Scanners
  • Scotch tape or glue
  • Scissors or pocket knives
  • Post-It notes
  • Highlighters or markers
  • Tripods and other camera equipment

While using the collection, please observe the following dos and don'ts:

  • Use pencils, not pens while taking notes.
  • Don't write on paper placed on top of a collection item.
  • If you'd like to mark your place, please do not use scratch paper or Post-Its. We'll provide acid-free bookmarks you can use instead.
  • Non-flash photography is allowed with a handheld device. 

Reading Room Hours

Tuesday – Saturday
10am – 4pm
Items can be requested until 3pm.

Learn More

Have a Question?

Ask a Librarian

Our reference librarians are here to help you get the most out of your research.