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Reading Room Access and Research Services for AIC Staff: Library Services

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


In order to use the Libraries’ click-and-collect book retrieval system or make appointments to view special collections materials, new users must attend an orientation. Library orientations are offered at 11:00 a.m. on the first Wednesday of the month. Please complete this form to request a G-Cal invitation.

Access For Museum Staff, Fellows, and Interns

Reading Room Access

Monday - Friday 9:00 - 5:00

Daily Paging

Items requested from Primo by 11:00 AM will be paged daily

Some items can take up to a week to be made available

Staff Reserve Access

Monday - Friday 9:00 - 5:00 items are held for six months or until returned

Reference Assistance

Available by email

Staff appointments available Monday, Thursday, & Friday 1:30 - 5:00

Archives Assistance

Available by appointment

Specials Viewing

Walk-in service at circulation desk; Monday - Friday 1:30 - 5:00

Stacks Access

Walk-in service at circulation desk; Monday - Friday 1:30 - 5:00

Up to 30 minutes, must be accompanied by a library staff member

Interlibrary Lending

Items can be requested from ILLiad 

Items are available by staff circulation or as specials depending on the requirements of the lending institution


Scans requested from Primo will be processed daily

Self-serve scanning equipment is available for staff in the Reading Room

Purchase Requests

Place requests for new physical or digital materials

*For general inquiries, contact

Requesting Materials

All AIC staff members, after completing an orientation, may request items through Primo. Signing in using your AIC credentials, you can search the catalog and request the book or a scan from the item record. 

Library staff will pull the item from the shelves and determine whether it can circulate to onsite and home offices or if the item needs to be kept on staff reserve for library use only.

Staff Circulation

If an item is eligible for circulation to onsite and home offices, you will receive an email notifying you that items are available on staff circulation. These are found on the staff circulation shelf that runs perpendicular to the circulation desk. Items are filed by the patron’s last name and will be held for up to two weeks.

Please leave the receipt with your name on it in the tray next to the hold shelf.


Staff may request an item that is checked out by another patron. When a recall is placed through Primo, the person who has the item checked out will get an email asking them to return it within seven days. When it is returned, the person who recalled it will be notified by email to pick it up.

Staff Reserve

Some items are not eligible for circulation and will instead be placed on staff reserve. Additionally, any temporary staff members will have all items paged to staff reserve. Once the item has been paged, you will receive an email notifying you that items are available on the staff reserve. These items are found on the shelves in the eastern alcove and are filed by the patron’s last name. Oversized items and pamphlet files are filed separately on the shelves next to normal sized items.

Items will remain on staff reserve for up to six months or until returned. 


Some items, marked as ‘Specials’ can only be viewed while supervised. After these items are paged, the email notification will include a comment marking them as specials. 

In order to view a special, ask for help at the circulation desk anytime between 1:30 and 5:00 on a weekday. A staff member will prepare the item for viewing, supervise your use, and either return it or place it back on hold for you.


Scan requests placed through Primo will be processed within two days and delivered to you via email. Additionally, overhead scanning equipment is available in the reading room for staff use.

You are welcome to use your phone to photograph library materials. However, do not use a copier or flatbed scanner to make personal scans. Doing so can substantially harm the binding of the item.

Interlibrary Loans
Interlibrary loans are processed separately from items from our collection. When eligible for circulation, they can be found marked with a pink band on the table across from the staff circulation shelf. Some lending institutions require supervised use. These items can be accessed the same as specials, by speaking to a staff member at the circulation desk between 1:30 and 5:00 Monday through Friday. 

Returning Items

Any item can be returned by being placed on the counter of the returns desk. If you have more items to return than can be safely carried, you can also contact to arrange a bulk return. A library staff member will come to your departmental office with a cart to pick up returned items.

Franke Reading Room

The Research Center’s Franke Reading Room is a shared space in which staff members can:

Pick up requested circulating materials

Consult items placed on staff reserve

Work with the open shelf reference collection

Use scanning equipment

Return materials

We invite our museum colleagues to use the Franke Reading Room as a quiet space for focused reading and writing projects away from the bustle of the curatorial offices. 

The front doors (next to the Grand Staircase) are always unlocked on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. If the front doors are locked, please use the staff entrance to the Research Center in the Photo & Media gallery 10 downstairs (next to the Thorne Rooms).

Ryerson & Burnham Libraries and Archives Search

Search the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries and Art and Architecture Archives

Input a keyword into the box and click Search to begin searching the online library catalog, including content from the Art and Architecture Finding Aids, Digital Collections, and Oral History databases.

Unfortunately, Institutional Archives resources (including the Imaging Archives) are not yet searchable here; please visit this page for more information.

Digital Resources from the Art Institute of Chicago

Digital Resources from the Art Institute of Chicago

  • Ryerson & Burnham Art and Architecture Archives: Digital Collections
  • Finding Aids: Finding aids are inventories or indices that describe the contents and context of an archival collection and are the primary method of accessing information about any given group of records.
  • Images and Media: Catalog of electronic surrogates of selected original archival materials from the Ryerson & Burnham Archives collections. Materials may include photographs, slides, architectural drawings and prints, correspondence, and printed papers.
  • Oral Histories: Browse over 250 artists and architect oral histories.

A list of online guides and bibliographies developed by Ryerson & Burnham librarians to assist research on a variety of art historical and architectural topics, including provenance research, building history, appraisal and preservation resources, Chicago neighborhood research, and the history of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Digital collection catalogs available freely online. Catalogs offer detailed art historical context, provenance history, and scientific analysis of artworks in the Art Institute of Chicago's collections.

Research Center Resources

Research Center Resources

Online catalogs and databases maintained by the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries and Art Institute of Chicago Archives:

Make requests for materials that are not owned by the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries:

Find library information:

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 (x3-3665)

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