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Requesting materials

Things to know:

  • To submit and track requests, you must have an account in the Distinctive Collections Request System (DCRS).
  • Our collections do not circulate. They must be used on-site in our Reading Room (14N-118) or via a virtual reference consultation. Learn how to schedule an appointment.
  • At any given time, you may have only 10 requests for either on-site use or for a virtual consult.
  • Our collections are stored off-site and require advance notice for retrieval. Most take 4 business days to retrieve, but some materials must be requested 10 business days in advance so they can be reviewed for any access restrictions. More notice is always appreciated.
  • If you cannot find the material you are looking for or if you have any questions, please email us at distinctive-collections@mit.edu.

Archives and Manuscripts:

Archival and manuscript collections may be requested through MIT ArchivesSpace. See our guide on Using MIT ArchivesSpace for more information.

Request for on-site use

  • The “Request” button in MIT ArchivesSpace will import the item information into the DCRS as an “Unsubmitted Request”.
  • In the “Visit Information” section of the form, choose an existing appointment or create a new one by clicking “New Appointment”.
  • In 1-2 business days, you’ll receive an email confirming your appointment. If your appointment cannot be confirmed, staff will explain the reason and/or next steps.

Order a copy

  • Once you’ve imported the item information into the DCRS, make note of the assigned Transaction Number and navigate to the request system Home page. The request will be located under Outstanding Requests.
  • Locate the request, select the Actions drop-down menu, and select Order Copy.
  • This will create a new copy request. You must now add information regarding format, quantity, needed by date, and resolution requirements and then submit your order.
  • Please note that once submitted, the copy request will be given a new transaction number.

Rare Books, MIT Theses, and other published materials (including tarot cards):

Request for on-site use

  • Request published materials such as MIT publications, MIT Reports, MIT Theses, rare books, and tarot cards through our catalog by choosing the “Request for on-site use” button.
  • This will import the item information into the DCRS and you may complete your request.
  • In the “Visit Information” section of the form, choose an existing appointment or create a new one by clicking “New Appointment”.
  • In 1-2 business days, you’ll receive an email confirming your appointment. If your appointment cannot be confirmed, staff will explain the reason and/or next steps.

Order a copy

  • To order copies of items in our catalog, select “Order a copy.”
  • This will import the item information into the DCRS.
  • You will then add details regarding format, quantity, needed by date, and resolution requirements before submitting the request.