Using MIT's Rare Books
MIT's rare book collections are housed with the Institute Archives and Special Collections. The reading room is located in the Hayden Library, room 14N-118.
Books with the Barton shelf location "Noncirculating Collection 1" can generally be retrieved for same-day use in the Archives reading room. Books with the location "Noncirculating Collection 3" require at least one business day advance notice for retrieval.
Some of our rare books do not yet appear in Barton. Brief information about these titles can be found in a microfiche snapshot of an earlier version of the MIT Libraries' catalog. This microfiche catalog is available in the Archives reading room and in other MIT Libraries locations.
Requesting Rare Books
The best way to request specific titles is via our Ask the Archives web form. In the "What is your question?" box, please give the book's call number and title, and let us know when you'd like to visit.
You may also stop by the reading room to request materials. Our normal operating hours are Monday through Thursday, 10 am till 4 pm, with exceptions noted on our home page. Always check for special hours, because the reading room sometimes closes for visits by MIT classes.
Handling Rare Books
Many of our rare volumes are hundreds of years old; most, regardless of age, are very fragile. Researchers will be asked to exercise special care when handling rare materials. Book supports, weights, and other tools will be provided. We ask that readers wash their hands immediately before coming to the reading room. For certain materials, gloves (which we provide) will be required.