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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.
  • 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 request an appointment.
  • At any given time, you may have only 15 requests for on-site use or 10 requests for a virtual consult.
  • In most cases our collections are stored off-site and require advance notice for retrieval; please plan to request materials at least three business days in advance, more notice is preferred.
  • Be aware that copy orders may take longer than usual to complete, as our safety protocols limit the number of library staff on campus.
  • 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

Order a copy

  • Once you’ve imported the item information into the Distinctive Collections Request System, 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 Distinctive Collections Request System and you may complete your request.
  • After you submit your request, request an appointment to visit the reading room.

Order a copy

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