A new request system for MIT Libraries’ Distinctive Collections

Place, schedule, and track requests for future visits and digital copies

This story was originally posted on June 22, 2020

Although library locations have been closed due to COVID-19, a dedicated team of MIT Libraries staff has continued work on a project that will improve service for users of Distinctive Collections, both remotely and on-site in the future. We are excited to announce that we have adopted Aeon by Atlas Systems as our new Distinctive Collections Request System. Distinctive Collections collects, preserves, and fosters the use of unique and rare materials such as tangible and digital archives, manuscripts, MIT theses and publications, ephemera, artists’ books, and more, providing access to a wide community of users.

Aeon may look familiar, as it is used by archives and special collections research centers across the country. All users of Distinctive Collections will use the new system, which allows you to place, schedule, and track requests for on-site visits, as well as order, pay for, and receive delivery of digital copies of materials for remote use.

System Features
Creating an account will allow you to:

  • Complete necessary forms and agreements: Submit the necessary registration information, forms, and agreements prior to visiting or requesting imaging services. Upon arrival in the Distinctive Collections Reading Room, you will only need to show a photo ID.
  • Place requests: Request directly from the MIT Libraries’ Barton catalog and MIT’s ArchivesSpace to order digital copies or view in the reading room, when available.
  • Track requests: Keep track of your requests and see when they are available. Once we return to campus, we will be able to provide updates for each request as it moves through the system.
  • Save requests for later: Should you wish to request large amounts of material, you will have the ability to save requests for later if you have reached your requesting limit.
  • See request history: Access your past requests through a request history feature. This will allow you to easily verify citations, request items again, or request copies of items you previously viewed.
  • Request, pay, and receive digital copies: Do everything in one platform. You will be able to complete payments for copy requests online with a credit card and will receive your copies through the electronic delivery system.
  • Collaborate: Work with others and Distinctive Collections staff through the activities feature. This will encourage community collaboration on projects like class sessions using Distinctive Collections material and exhibits on MIT’s campus.

New Requests
Due to the campus closure, we are unable to support user visits to the Distinctive Collections Reading Room at this time and are not yet able to fill digital copy orders. However, you may order copies now for future processing; advanced orders will help us work with limited staffing to achieve the quickest turn-around possible on digitization orders once we have access to physical collections (timing currently unknown). Please note that even when we begin this service again, orders may take longer than expected. Thank you in advance for your understanding and patience.

We are excited to serve you with this new system! To create an account, and learn more about how to request materials and order copies, visit Requesting Materials on the Distinctive Collections website. As always, if you have any questions, contact us at distinctive-collections@mit.edu.