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 the Guidelines Regarding Digital Camera Use and use a Digital Camera Flag.
Please help us to protect and maintain our collections by adhering to the following guidelines:
- No food or drink is allowed at the Reading Room Tables.
- All coats, outerwear, bags and briefcases can be left on the large table in the northwest corner of the room.
- Only pencils are allowed at the Reading Room tables. Pens are still available (and essential) for filling out circulation charge slips.
- 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.
- 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.
Library Registration & Circulation
Library Privileges Policy
Only those individuals with Library privileges may enter and use the non-public areas of the Library, including the Main Stacks, Botany, Geology, Birds, Mammals, Insects, Invertebrates, Fishes, and Amphibians & Reptiles Libraries. All those who have a valid Museum identification badge may request Library Privileges.
The Library Privileges Form must be completely filled out, signed, and submitted to the Library Reference Desk before privileges will be granted. At that time, a Library orientation session should be scheduled. Please stop by the Reference Desk during service hours (Tuesday-Friday, 1pm-4pm) to pick up a form.
- Full Library Privileges apply to the status categories listed below. Users will have access to all stack areas, the ability to borrow materials and request interlibrary loans.
- Full-time staff
- Postdoctoral fellows
- Curators emeriti
- Adjunct Curators
- Research Associates
- Partial Library Privileges apply to the status categories listed below. Users will have access to all stack areas. Those with partial privileges cannot borrow books unless an FMNH staff member with Full Privileges sponsors them. Note: It is the responsibility of the Department/Division to ensure that these individuals register with the Library and comply with its policies. If these individuals fail to return library materials, then the Department/Division is responsible for their replacement.
- Graduate Students
- Professional Visitors
- Temporary staff
- Contract staff
Circulation Policies & Procedures
All new library users should schedule an orientation of the Library in order to learn how to access Library materials. ALL MATERIALS MUST BE CHARGED OUT AT THE CIRCULATION/REFERENCE DESK BEFORE BEING REMOVED FROM THE MAIN LIBRARY. (Each satellite library has a designated circulation area; please charge out all materials before removing items from these locations.) The efficiency of the library depends on accurate and consistent self-checkout. Call numbers must be written exactly as they appear on the spine of the item. Please print legibly and record author, title and name of borrower for books. For serials, please record title of serials as well as volume, number and year of item. At their discretion, Reference Staff may limit the use and/or circulation of especially fragile materials. Please do not reshelve any materials. ALL LIBRARY MATERIALS MUST BE USED IN THE MUSEUM ONLY. NO MATERIAL MAY BE REMOVED FROM MUSEUM PREMISES.
Loan periods are indefinite unless needed by another user. We encourage library users to return library materials that they are not ACTIVELY using.
Charged library materials must be stored in a safe, dedicated work area where the items can be accessed and recalled by Library staff (at any time) for use by another patron. Please do not interfile library materials with personal references. Lost library materials should be promptly reported to the Library staff. Loss of Library materials, or failure to return recalled Library materials, will result in an invoice to the borrower (or the borrower’s sponsor or supervisor) in the amount of the full replacement cost of the item. Unpaid invoices will result in Library privileges being revoked. Departing Museum staff and associates must return all Library materials before their final day at the Museum. Wages will be garnished for the replacement costs of all missing library items.
In order to maintain proper control of the library’s collections, it is necessary for library staff to occasionally conduct an inventory of materials located in staff offices. Library staff will make every effort to make this process as non-intrusive as possible to the borrowers. Library circulation staff will give ample notice when scheduling inventories.
Donation & Gift Policy
The Field Museum Library welcomes gifts of books and other materials that enhance or develop the library collection. Due to the high cost of managing the donation process, the acceptance of gifts depends on the criteria listed below. The Field Museum Library has the right to reject donations when necessary or appropriate.
Many of the same standards of selection will be applied to gifts as are applicable for purchased material. Primary criteria includes:
- Relevance to Field Museum collection & research needs
- Appropriateness of content and format
- Scholarly quality
- Physical condition
Potential donors are asked to prepare a spreadsheet that contains the following information for the items he/she wishes to donate:
- Books: author/editor, title, publisher, date
- Journals: title, publisher, volume & dates of publication (when applicable)
- Note: if you have a small number of items to donate (1-5 items), creating a spreadsheet is not necessary. But, we ask that you still send the bibliographic information to Christine Giannoni (firstname.lastname@example.org) via email. Please do not drop off items without prior notification.
Assigned Field Museum Library staff will review and screen donated material using the standards stated above.
Donor will be responsible for:
- Delivering materials to the Field Museum Library
- Filling out a Deed of Gift form provided by the library
Library will be responsible for:
- Preparing a Donation Letter
- Completing the Deed of Gift form and returning it to the donor.
All donations become property of the Field Museum Library and the library retains the right to dispose of unneeded items in any way it sees fit (trade, sale, discard, donate). The Field Museum Library will not place a value on gifts for tax purposes.
Donors’ names are often entered into our local catalog records. Please inform library staff of your preference to acknowledge your gift or remain anonymous.