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Requesting materials

Service update

While our reading room remains closed, we have started to process our queue of copy orders and have begun to schedule virtual reference consultations with materials from our collections. 

Requests from the MIT community will be prioritized. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Available now:

Digital copy orders

  • Follow the instructions below to place orders via the Distinctive Collections Request System.
  • Please note, copy orders may take longer than usual to complete, as our safety protocols limit the number of library staff on campus.

Reference consultations (with materials) via Zoom

  1. Before you schedule an appointment, create an account in our Distinctive Collections Request System. This will facilitate the work needed to schedule your appointment.
  2. Email us at least one week in advance (more notice is preferred) of your preferred appointment time.
    • Appointments will be available Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11-12:30; 2-3:30; and 4-5:30.
    • In your email, give at least three possible appointment days/times in the order of preference.
    • If none of the days/times above work for you, let us know.
    • You will be limited to 10 requests per appointment. If you need to see more than 10 items, please schedule two appointments.
  3. Once your appointment is confirmed, you’ll be sent instructions on how to use our Distinctive Collections Request System to request materials. Please place your requests as soon as your appointment is scheduled to give us ample time to retrieve and review your materials.

Please let us know if you have any questions.


Important things to know:

  • Set up your account in the Distinctive Collections Request System to submit and track requests.
  • Our collections do not circulate and must be used on-site in our Reading Room (14N-118).
  • Each user may have only 15 on-site requests at a given time.
  • In most cases our collections are stored off-site and require advance notice for retrieval; please plan to request materials at least two business days in advance.
  • If you plan to view materials in person, please review our Reading Room policies to prepare for your visit.
  • If you cannot find the material you are looking for or if you have any questions, please contact us.

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 MIT’s Barton catalog by choosing the “Request for on-site use” button.
  • This will import the item information into the Distinctive Collections Request System and you will then schedule a date for your visit.

Order a copy

  • To order copies of items in Barton, 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.

Additional resources

Materials related to MIT people – and how to conduct related research:

Institute Archives records: