Making an Appointment for the Reading Rooms
The Newberry reading rooms are open by appointment Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm.
Our top priority is the health and safety of our community. To provide access to our collections safely in the reading rooms, we’ve 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 as needed. Appointment requests must be made at least five business days in advance of your visit. You may submit a request for an appointment online or by contacting us at (312) 255-3506.
- To schedule a visit, fill out the Appointment Request Form. Please submit this form as soon as you begin to plan for your reading room visit. Requests must be submitted at least five business days in advance of when you’d like to visit. Please note that not all requests can be accommodated.
- Appointments can be scheduled for either morning (10 am – 1 pm) or afternoon (1:30 pm – 4 pm) blocks, Tuesday – Friday. Please note that the reading rooms are closed Saturdays. Visitors are welcome to arrive at any time convenient during their scheduled block. Due to limited capacity, we ask that you request appointments for no more than two days per week.
- Each researcher must indicate on the form what kinds of materials you anticipate working with (print or manuscript material/digital resources/microfilm readers/etc.) and if you expect to need to speak to a reference librarian.
- Please also list the physical collection items, including items normally available on the open shelf, that you plan to consult during your visit. Up to five physical items from the collection may be requested for each appointment slot (morning and afternoon). Reference staff will confirm availability of materials and can help place requests upon confirmation of your appointment.
- Only researchers with an appointment will be admitted to the reading rooms. We cannot guarantee same-day accommodation for researchers intending to visit together. Each researcher must make a separate appointment request.
- Our reference staff are available to assist you. If you do not need to consult materials in person, please use our Contact a Librarian Form to receive remote access to our collection including look-ups, copy orders, and reference assistance.
- You will receive an email confirming your visit at least three business days in advance of your scheduled appointment. This email will also confirm the reading room you’ll be visiting, the availability of the materials requested, and instructions for when you arrive.
- Backpacks, briefcases, or handbags larger than 12”x9”; bulky outerwear; or umbrellas must be checked in the lockers on the first floor. Bags (including handbags) smaller than 12”x9” are allowed on the upper floors. Transparent plastic bags for transporting computers, research material, and other personal items to the upper floors are available in the Welcome Center without charge. All items brought to the upper floors are subject to inspection upon exit.
- If you need to obtain or renew a reader’s card, you can still do so in the Welcome Center. Visitors may attach a photo of their documentation with their appointment request. Should you prefer not to attach your documentation with your appointment request, you will be asked to present your photo ID with proof-of-address to our staff on the day of your visit. More information about what kinds of photo ID and proof-of-address are accepted can be found here.
- Visitors should check in at the circulation desk in the appropriate reading room when they arrive. Materials will be pulled in advance of your visit and set up with the appropriate supports and book weights before you arrive.
- The reading rooms will close between 1 and 1:30 pm for staff to clean surfaces and set up materials for afternoon appointments. All visitors must leave the reading rooms during this time.
Why do I need to make an appointment?
We are limiting the number of people in the building and in the reading rooms in accordance with social distancing guidelines.
How is the Newberry ensuring the safety of its visitors and staff?
Face coverings worn over the nose and mouth are required at all times within the building. Washing and thoroughly drying hands is required before entering the reading rooms. All collection items are retrieved by staff wearing masks. Tables, keyboards, chairs, and other surfaces in the reading rooms are disinfected after each use. In addition, we are suspending the use of our first-floor lounge area and basement vending machines, and limiting the capacity of elevators and bathrooms. Signage has been posted throughout the building to help ensure guidelines are followed.
I am coming from another state or country. Can I make an appointment?
In compliance with an emergency travel order issued by the Chicago Department of Public Health, visitors arriving from outside Illinois must take certain safety measures before visiting the Newberry.
Do I need to make an appointment to use your computers and/or open-shelf books, or to speak with a reference librarian in person?
Yes, appointments will be required for any activity in the reading rooms. No one will be allowed past the security desk without an appointment. Please carefully consider whether you need to consult resources in person before making a request to visit. If your inquiry can be answered remotely please submit a request using our Contact a Librarian Form.
I don’t know what resources to consult. How do I get help?
Most physical materials, including items normally available on the open shelf in the Reference Center on the third floor, will be retrieved by staff upon request. Researchers will need to consult our online catalog and other guides to find materials related to their research.
Reference staff are also available to talk with you about what you’d like to research and how we may be able to help with that project. Please reach out to our reference department through the Contact a Librarian Form or call us at (312) 255-3512.
Will I be able to move between the reading rooms?
Reference staff will coordinate any visits that include requests for materials from separate reading rooms. When possible, we will try to set up materials in the same reading room; but depending on the type of items, you may be asked to move between reading rooms.
Will I be able to move between my table in the General Reading Room and the computers and/or microfilm machines?
We require notification in advance of your visit if you plan to use resources that are different formats (such as online databases and print materials) so that staff can clean stations between uses. Because capacity is limited, there may be restrictions on how long you can use the computers and/or microfilm readers.
Can I still bring in personal items?
Backpacks, briefcases, or handbags larger than 12”x9”; bulky outerwear; or umbrellas must be checked in the lockers on the first floor. Bags (including handbags) smaller than 12”x9” are allowed on the upper floors. Transparent plastic bags for transporting computers, research material, and other personal items to the upper floors are available at the Welcome Center without charge. All items brought to the upper floors are subject to inspection upon exit.
Can I still have reproductions made in the reading rooms?
Staff can provide PDF scans of collection materials. However, we will no longer provide print (physical) copies. In order to ensure materials are handled safely, wait times will be longer than usual. Visitors are also welcome to take photos of materials using their own cameras and phones, provided flash is turned off. If you would like to request copies, please consult with staff in the appropriate reading room.
Can I still print out material from the computers and microfilm readers?
Yes, visitors can still print from the computer stations in the reading rooms. However, personal devices are not able to connect to our printers. Visitors may also bring flash drives to save images and documents from the microfilm readers and computers.
Will the Newberry still offer its other services and programming during this time?
Building tours, genealogy orientations, and in-person public programs have all been suspended until further notice. We are continuing to offer virtual programming and adult education seminar courses; more information about upcoming events can be found on our calendar.