Reading Room Guidelines & General Information

Reading Room Use Policy

The Reading Room of the Field Museum Library serves as the center of activity for the daily operations of the library. Museum staff, volunteers and the general public visit the Reading Room for its reference services, access to computers, entrance to the general stacks, and as a quiet atmosphere in which to study. It has been a long-standing tradition in the museum to provide open access to library collections and services. That being said, some full time staff may be granted 24-hour access to the Library’s collections via card readers.

While the Reading Room is often used to host evening events, lectures and tours, the Library discourages the use of the area for daytime functions, unless it is specifically for a library-related purpose. Daytime events in the reading room are disruptive to library service and access to the collections is subsequently denied to any potential users. The use of the Library Reading Room for special events is at the discretion of the Museum Librarian. In some extraordinary cases, exception can be made.

Computers & Scanners

The Reading Room provides 3 computers for research use. Users can search the Library's website, online catalog, photo archives database, or check their museum email. Please be respectful of other users and limit use if others are waiting.

Please note that the Library does not have a photocopier for visitor use. We do have a book-friendly, overhead scanner that takes image captures from book and journals and converts them to PDF's for your research use only. Please bring your own USB drive.

New Books & Periodicals

Items located on the New Book Shelf are available for immediate check out to registered Library users (borrowing privileges reserved for Museum staff and associates). New periodicals are displayed in the Reading Room every Tuesday and remain there for 1 week. These periodicals do not circulate until the following Tuesday.


The Reading Room is unlocked Tuesday-Friday, 8am-4pm. After hours access is available via the ID card reader. Requests must be made to the Museum Librarian who will grant privileges at her/his discretion. Please note that visitors from the general public must make an appointment, register with security and be escorted to the Library. Hours for the general public are Tuesday-Friday, 1-4pm (appointments required).

Use of Electronic Devices

  • Please silence mobile phones
  • Laptops may be used in the Reading Room. An extension cord is available to plug into the wall socket.
  • Use of personal digital cameras is allowed. Please see "Guidelines Regarding Digital Camera Use" under "associated files" at the bottom of this page.

Please help us to protect and maintain our collections by adhering to the following guidelines:

  1. No food or drink is allowed at the Reading Room Tables.
  2. All coats, outerwear, bags and briefcases can be left on the large table in the northwest corner of the room.
  3. Only pencils are allowed at the Reading Room tables. Pens are still available (and essential) for filling out circulation charge slips.
  4. To avoid putting stress on the bindings of books and journals when photocopying, put the crease of the book or journal along the slanted edge of the photocopy machine and copy one page at a time (rather than pressing the material flat on the machine in order to copy two pages at once). Consult Library Staff before attempting to photocopy rare, fragile, or oversize materials. Do not use paper clips or sticky-notes on any library materials.
  5. No materials may be removed from the Reading Room. Please return all materials to the Reference Desk and check out with staff before departing from the Reading Room.