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Reading Room Access and Research Services for AIC Staff: FAQs

Information on Using the Libraries and Archives for Art Institute of Chicago Staff

Access Questions

I received a notice that my requested items are available in the reading room. How can I arrange to collect them?

You can visit the reading room at any point M-F from 9:00-5:00 p.m. to pick up, drop off, or work with general collection materials. The notice you receive will indicate how the materials are available:

  • On the staff hold shelf next to the elevator and spiral staircase (circulating materials for permanent museum staff)
  • On the staff reserve shelf in the east alcove (non-circulating, general collection materials)
  • Special collections materials that require mediated access by appointment (information on special collection and archival materials is below).

The reading room doors adjacent to the Grand Staircase are kept unlocked all day on Tuesday and Wednesday, while the museum is closed to the public, and kept unlocked from 1:30-5:00 p.m. during public hours on Monday, Thursday and Friday. To access the reading room at any other time, please use the proxed Research Center museum staff entrance in the Photography & Media gallery 10 on the lower level next to the Thorne Rooms. Take the spiral staircase or the library elevator to the first floor. 

The elevator and stairs can also be reached from the ground level of Ferguson by following the G-level hallway south past the Michigan Avenue building freight elevator until you can turn right. Walk past the Book Conservation lab and Stack B, and follow the signs to the elevator or the staircase.


I need to view special collection materials or archival collections. What are my access options?

Request a research appointment to view these materials in the reading room. Additional information about library research appointments for museum staff is available here, and additional information about archives research appointments for museum staff is available here.




Timeline Questions

What will be the average wait time between requesting an item and being notified that it is available?

If you request a general collection item that is marked as available in an onsite location prior to 11:00 you should be notified that it is ready for you to retrieve it from the reading room by 1:00PM the same day.


I need an item that is stored at Offsite-NU. What is the average wait time between requesting it and being notified that the item is available?

Our colleagues at OGLC are onsite Monday through Friday. Once a request is received, they ship it to us within two work days. Depending on when your request is placed, it may take up to a full week before you are notified that the item is available for you to retrieve.


I ordered an interlibrary loan item. When can I expect to receive it?

We do our best to fulfill requests promptly, but loan requests may take two to six weeks to fill. Please include a "no longer needed by" date in your request so we know when the need for the item has passed.

Contact Us

Ryerson & Burnham Libraries for reference assistance, library orientation information, questions on interlibrary loan, and questions on library access and services. The following staff can also assist with these types of questions:

Violet Jaffe (x3-3936)

Jenn Smith (x7-7103) for questions on circulation, offsite materials, bulk returns, and scanning requests. The following staff can also assist with these types of questions: 

Abby Adams (x3-3667)


The Art Institute of Chicago Archives

For information on our collections, the history of the Art Institute and the School of the Art Institute, donation proposals, corrections, comments, and general questions, please contact Archives staff at