Use the Collection in Person

Anyone 14 and over is free to explore the Newberry collection in person at the library.

Go straight to the source of history.

How a Non-Circulating Library Works

We're open to the public. But we're not part of the Chicago Public Library system. (That may be a little confusing, we know.) As an independent research library with a non-circulating collection, we make our resources available on site to anyone who's curious about the past. 

It all starts with a reader's card. If you're 14 or older and have a research interest related to our collection, you can sign up for one. When you visit the Newberry for the first time, we'll give you your reader's card and a brief orientation.

With your newest prized possession in hand, you'll go to the library reading rooms and travel back to whichever time period you're studying.

Get Started

Once you've signed up for a Newberry reader's card, you can use our online catalog to make requests through your reader's account.

The Newberry collection is stored in a climate-controlled closed stacks building. This means you don't have to find what you're looking for on open shelves. A library staff member will bring it right to your desk.

When you check in with us in the reading rooms, we'll give you a place to sit and retrieve your requested items. Delivery times are usually between five and 15 minutes. You can request materials until an hour before the reading rooms close.

As a non-circulating library, we make our collection available to researchers in the Newberry reading rooms only. While you're not able to take that letter by Michelangelo home with you, we're happy to put it on hold so you can view it the next time you visit.

Talk to reading room staff if you plan to use the same collection item (or items) on more than one visit.

Believe it or not, the safest way to handle most items in our collection is with clean, dry hands. Gloves are required for only a few types of materials, such as photographs.

Newberry reading room staff will advise you on the right way to engage with your requested items.

For the security and preservation of our collection, the following items are not allowed in the reading rooms. Please store them in the lockers available on the first floor of the library.

  • Food and beverages
  • Backpacks, briefcases, and large handbags
  • Coats
  • Umbrellas
  • Scanners
  • Scotch tape or glue
  • Scissors or pocket knives
  • Post-It notes
  • Highlighters or markers

While using the collection, please observe the following dos and don'ts:

  • Use pencils, not pens while taking notes.
  • Don't write on paper placed on top of a collection item.
  • If you'd like to mark your place, please do not use scratch paper or Post-Its. We'll provide acid-free bookmarks you can use instead.

Tuesday – Saturday
10am – 4pm

Items can be requested until 3pm.

Photography/Reproductions of Newberry Collections

Many researchers take photos of library materials to reference later or post to social media. Whatever the purpose, you're welcome to take photos of Newberry collections with the flash off. Additional lighting, scanners, and tripods are not permitted in the reading rooms.

Our staff can help if you want to request PDF scans of items from our collection. Please be aware that some items may be too fragile for copying. If we can accommodate your request, we usually fulfill orders within 24 hours.

Fees for Printed Items

  • Each exposure: $0.40 (for requests in person or by email)
  • Each additional volume: No charge (for requests in person); $5.00 (for requests by email)
  • Processing fee: No charge (for requests in person); $15.00 (for requests by email)

Fees for Manuscript Items

  • Each exposure: $0.40 (for requests in person or by email)
  • Archival collections: $1.00 per folder (for requests in person); $5.00 per folder (for requests by email)
  • Processing fee: No charge (for requests in person); $15.00 (for requests by email)

Additional fees will be charged for orders involving 50 or more pages from a single volume or archival collection. Email for more information.

Tens of thousands of digital files are available to download and use free of charge. View our digital collections to see what's available.

If you don't find what you're looking for in our digital collections, you can use your Newberry reader's account to order high-resolution JPEG and TIFF files as well as AVI, MP3, MP4, and WAV files. PDF scans of materials that cannot be scanned in the reading rooms may also be requested. Orders are usually completed in 4 - 6 weeks and can be expedited for an additional fee.

  • JPEG and TIFF files: $20 per file
  • PDF files: $1 per page ($20 minimum)
  • Copies of existing AVI, MP3, MP4, and WAV files: $25
  • New AVI, MP3, MP4, and WAV files: subject to vendor availability and pricing

Reproduction of oversized or fragile material is subject to approval and may have additional fees.

Read our instructions for placing an order for digital files.

Under our open access policy, you can use images from the Newberry collection for any lawful purpose without paying any licensing or permission fees to the library.

Please keep in mind that US copyright law still applies. You are responsible for making sure you're in compliance.

  • Determine whether the material is in the public domain or protected by copyright law or other restrictions.
  • If the material is protected by copyright law, determine if your intended use of it falls within the bounds of fair use.
  • If your intended use of the material doesn't qualify as fair use, obtain permission from any rights holders.

Questions? Contact us at

Search the Collection


The Newberry's online catalog is the primary tool for searching across the collection, from books and maps to journals and manuscripts.

Search the Catalog

Finding Aids and Inventories

Detailed finding aids outline the organization and the contents of archival collections at the Newberry

Search the Archives

Research Guides

Want to survey the landscape before searching the catalog and finding aids? Consult our research guides to learn more about what we have and how you can find it.

Browse Guides

Your Reader's Account

Genealogist and Newberry Fellow Tony Burroughs

Log in to your Newberry reader's account to start requesting collection items through our online catalog.

Log in

Have a Question?

Ask a Librarian

Our reference librarians are here to help you get the most out of your research.


Exhibitions bridge the past and present using historic items from the Newberry collection.

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Genealogy Research

The Newberry is one of the leading centers for genealogy in the country. Wherever you are in your genealogy research, we can help.

Learn More