Skip to Main Content
art institute of chicago logo

SAIC Access to the Franke Reading Room: What to Expect When You Visit

How to access the Franke Reading Room to consult the collections of the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries and the Art Institute of Chicago Archives

Welcome to the Research Center

New policies and procedures are in place for how researchers can use the reading room. This page provides information on how to request items from the museum's Library and Archival collections. Additional information on finding and requesting research materials is available in this guide.


Signing in

When Research Center staff respond to approve your research appointment request, we will provide you with credentials to sign in to the online catalog. To do this:

Click Sign In in the upper right corner of the screen:

Click AIC/SAIC login:

Enter the credentials you received from the Research Center staff.

Once you have successfully signed in, your name should appear in the upper right corner of the screen:

You are now ready to place requests.

Requesting Materials

How to Request Materials

  • Search for the item you would like to request.
  • Select the item from the search results and click to open the record.
  • Materials that you have permission to request will have a blue request link. Click on the Request link:

Archival materials, serials, and multi-volume sets have request buttons for each item. These appear on the right side of the screen:

Archival collections may be housed in multiple locations. In order to browse all containers for a given collection, click on the Description menu text reading "All." This will open the full container list to browse and request:

Alma Description List

Certain types of oversized material—such as flatfiles, rolled tubes, and vertical file materials—are not barcoded, and therefore cannot be individually requested using this catalog. Instead, if you wish to view any of these materials, please find and request the container titled "Other oversized materials (flatfile, tube, vertical file)."

Select that container, then click on the link below "RBL > R&B Archives Stack A..." Finally, select the "Request" link, add any relevant comments (e.g., flatfile or tube numbers) and submit. Archives staff will then follow up with you to gather additional information regarding your request.

Alma Oversize List

What Happens Next?

  • Research Center staff will pull the item(s).
  • If we have questions or concerns about your request, we will be in touch by email. Otherwise, we will deliver the item(s) to the Reading  Room.
  • Unless you receive an email from Research Center staff indicating otherwise, requested materials will be waiting on a study table on the date and time of your appointment. Please check in with Research Center staff upon arrival to locate your table.
  • Materials will be checked out to your account in the reading room for six weeks from the original appointment date. If you would like to return to work with the materials again, please let the staff at the reference desk know that you are not finished with the items. You will need to place another appointment request to return to review materials that are checked out in the reading room.

Turnaround Times

We will do our best to deliver materials as quickly as possible but we ask that you place your requests in the online catalog a minimum of one week prior to your appointment so that we can make sure the items will be available. If requests are not received one week in advance of your appointment date, we will cancel the appointment. 

  • Materials from Offsite-NU (approximately ten percent of the library collection) will take at least four days from the point the item was requested to be delivered to the Reading Room.
  • Materials from the Backlog will also take at least four days from the point the item was requested to be delivered to the Reading Room for you to review. 
  • There is one opportunity in each appointment block for researchers to request additional materials. Items marked as available in the online catalog can be provided during this time; we are not able to provide same-day access to items that are stored Offsite or in the Backlog.


Search the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries

Input a keyword into the box and click Search to begin searching the online library catalog.

Search the Ryerson and Burnham Art and Architecture Archives

Input a keyword into the search box and then click Search to search through the archival collections.

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


Research Center Resources

Research Center Resources

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

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.

Contact Us

Ryerson & Burnham Libraries

For information on the museum collections, library collections, and library services, please contact Library staff at


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