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Circulation Manual: 1.1 Introduction / General Info


We are happy that you have joined our staff.  As a Circulation Assistant, you will play an important role as a representative of the libraries. The libraries are a world-class research facility with a very high commitment to service.  When on duty, you represent the libraries to the museum staff, members, students, and the general public. In fact, our patrons may have more contact with you than with anyone else in the library. It is essential that we all respond to our patrons with a courteous, helpful and professional attitude. As a Circulation Assistant, you will have direct contact with the library’s collections every day.  Because we are constantly handling and circulating these materials, the circulation staff has a greater responsibility to safeguard the collections than almost any other library staff. Over time, we hope that you come to value this one-of-a-kind collection and feel comfortable as one of its main stewards.

Learning the job

To provide excellent service, you will need to know as much about the library as possible.  When you start working here, you may feel overwhelmed by all of the procedures and details you’ll need to know.  Don’t worry, the Circulation Manager will make sure that you are trained on each aspect of the job before you are assigned to the task.  You will start out by doing the basic tasks like shelving and paging; over a period of two to three weeks you will be trained at all the duties of the job.  Never hesitate to ask questions; there is much that you will learn only by asking questions as issues arise. Rely on the Circulation Manager, the Reference Librarians, and the other Circulation Assistants any time a question arises that you can’t answer or if you are unsure how to do something.  You will be able to refer to this manual to clarify any tasks or duties that are unclear.

How to use this manual

This manual was written for both new circulation employees and experienced employees from any department in the library to refer to. Working in the library requires an understanding of many rules, procedures, and details; the purpose of this manual is to clarify and organize all of the details that the Circulation Assistant needs to know.  This manual lists what tasks the circulation staff are responsible for, how and when to carry them out, and where things are located.  The material is organized according to how tasks are assigned and scheduled. Circulation Assistants should use the manual as they are learning the job, and should continually refer to it as specific questions arise.

Reading on the job


We realize that many of our staff have a genuine interest in the library materials, but reading and research are not part of the Circulation Assistant job description. 

At the Reception Desk: you may read when you are working here, but be careful not to get so absorbed that you are not engaging each person entering and leaving the library. 

At the Circulation/Returns Desks: you should only be reading if all other work is done (i.e. books are checked in, pre-shelving is in order, etc.).

On Break/Lunch: feel free to read in the reading room, but take a seat so that you are out of the way of the workflow at the Circulation Desk.

Using library computers for personal reasons

This job involves using a shared computer at each of the services desks (Circulation, Returns, Reception). When service is slow in the Reading Room, you may use the computer for catching up on emailing, web browsing, personal projects etc. It is very important - both as a courtesy to your coworkers as well as for your own privacy and security - that you do not leave any accounts logged in at the end of your shift at any service desk. Please use private browsing functions and a personal hard drive for saving any files. Please do not use Service Desk computers during breaks. They may be needed for library functions. Public terminals in the West Alcove and Reader Services laptops can be made available for use during times when you are not on the clock in your capacity as a Circulation Assistant.

Atmosphere of Quiet

Noise carries well in the reading room.  Remember that while we are here for work, everyone else in the reading room is trying to study.  Conversations and phone calls at the Circulation Desk should be conducted in a quiet voice. Avoid casual conversations and social visits at the desk at all times of the day.

Food and Drink

Eating and drinking are not permitted anywhere in the library.  The Circulation department takes a 30 minute paid coffee break and a 1 hour unpaid lunch break every shift. There is a refrigerator, microwave, and small staff lounge in the basement area near Technical Services. There is another, larger lounge in the basement level of the Ferguson wing with a sink and vending machines.  Keep your lunch in a closed container while at work. Do not leave food containers at work overnight. The refrigerators in Technical Services and the general employee lounge is cleaned out every Friday afternoon. Anything left inside is disposed of.

Monroe Dock

The employee entrance for the museum is on Monroe Street. It is the only entrance/exit available to you before 10:30 and after 5.  You will use this entrance regularly.

All bags and parcels will be inspected at the dock as you leave. Oversized bags, long umbrellas, wrapped packages and anything you do not want inspected should be checked at the dock before you enter.  Certain items (artwork, cameras, etc.) may require a property pass to be removed from the museum. If you need a property pass, ask the Director or Head of Reader Services.

You may use the Michigan Avenue and Modern Wing entrances during public hours. However, you must have your ID and scan it as you enter. You will not be able to bring in beverage containers, umbrellas, backpacks, shopping bags, etc. In other words, you will be entering as a guest of the museum.

Parcel Control

Guards examine all packages, containers, and bags leaving the museum building. You may use the Michigan Avenue entrance at lunchtime, but only if you are not carrying parcels.  If you must bring valuable items to work that may appear to be museum property (cameras, tools, artwork, etc.) you must obtain a property pass from the library office before they can be removed from the building.


ID badges

IDs are required of all AIC employees, and must be worn at all times.  Until your permanent ID is issued, you will have to sign in and pick up a temporary ID at the Security Desk at the Monroe Dock each morning. This temporary ID should be turned in on your way out.  Permanent ID cards are issued in the ID office. Ask the Circulation Manager for directions. If you forget your ID, you may obtain a temporary ID from the Security Desk at the Monroe Dock on your way in, but please remember to bring your ID with you whenever you are scheduled to work. Your ID will also function as the proximity card that will allow you access to certain stack areas and workspaces.    

Your Mailbox

You will be assigned a mailbox at the Circulation Desk. Check it regularly for handouts and memos that may be left for you there.

Daily Schedule

The daily schedule is posted each morning at the Circulation Desk.  The schedule describes what tasks each assistant should be working on at any given time.  Detailed explanations of the correct procedures that go along with each of these tasks can be found later in this manual. Any changes to the schedule should be made by the Circulation Manager.  Tasks rotate by the hour so it is important to watch the time, and move promptly to your next position. This is especially important when relieving a coworker on a service desk.


If you are unable to come to work, please notify the Circulation Manager (312-443-3667) before the start of your shift.  If the Circulation Manager is unavailable, try the Reference Librarian (312-443-3665), and then the Library Office (312-443-6371). 


If you fail to either call in or report for a shift, a written acknowledgement of a “no call now show” will be issued. Three such incidents within a calendar year are grounds for immediate dismissal.

Arranging for Time Off

The Circulation Manager will put out a call for time off requests in the two weeks preceding each month. Once the monthly schedule is posted (both online and in physical form), days off cannot be granted without a shift being covered by another staff member. To request an emergency day off, you must post a request on the Circ bulletin board with your name, the date you are requesting off and the date you are posting the request. When the shift has been claimed, bring the request to the Circulation Manager, who will update the staff calendar.

Logging worked hours in ARTICtime

As a part-time hourly employee, you will register your worked hours at the end of shift in the museum’s online payroll dashboard ARTICtime.  If your shift is from 9-5, you will log 7 “worked hours” for that day. If it is 9-4 or 10-5, you will log 6.


Latenesses are counted in units of a quarter of an hour. For example, if you are scheduled to work from 9:00 to 5:00 and you are ready to sign in and get started at 9:08, your total for the day would be 6.75 hours. 

9:00-9:07 = on time 

9:08-9:22 = .75 hours

9:23-9:37 - .5 hours

9:38-9:52 = .25 hours

After 9:53 = 10:00

This chart is also posted on the bulletin board on the door of the circulation closet for future reference. Failure to accurately report worked hours is a violation of the law. Payroll is processed by the Circulation Manager every 2 weeks. At the end of each pay period, please review your timesheet, entering PTO hours for any scheduled shift that you did not work, and “submit” the timesheet in ARTICtime. If you do not press submit and agree to the legal language verifying the accuracy of your reported hours, your timesheet can not be processed and your payroll for the pay period will not go through. 

Please ask the Circulation Manager or refer to the Museum’s Payroll section of the intranet for more information on reporting worked hours and PTO using the ARTICtime dashboard.

AIC Intranet

The Art Institute’s Intranet is on the web at and is available to any employee with an artic gmail login.  The Intranet has information and forms from Human Resources, Payroll, and other museum departments.

Museum Employee Directory

One of the most useful pages on the AIC intranet is the employee directory where you can search employees at the museum or school using first or last name or department.


The employee restrooms are in the basement of the library, down the hall to the right of the elevator. The closest public restrooms are at either side of the grand staircase by the Paperweight  and the Photography Galleries.

Personal Phone calls

While at work please keep personal phone calls to a minimum.  If you must make a phone call from work while the Reading Room is open, please use the phone in the Microfilm Room or go outside the museum.


Family and friends are welcome to visit the reading room at any time and use the library during our public hours. They can be given tours of the stacks, as long as they are accompanied at all times by an employee.

90-day Probation Period

All new employees begin their employment with a 90-day probationary period.  This provides both the Art Institute and the employee an opportunity to determine whether a mutually satisfactory employment relationship exists.  Near the end of the 90-day probationary period, employees will receive a performance review that will include an evaluation of their work, attendance, punctuality, and other factors related to their job at the Art Institute.

Performance Evaluation

It is the Art Institute's policy to evaluate each employee's work performance regularly and systematically.  All employees will have a performance review to coincide with completion of the probationary period, followed by annual reviews conducted by a supervisor. Poor or unsatisfactory performance can be documented at any time using the performance evaluation process or other means.