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Researching at the Huntington Library

Information on using the Huntington Library.


Rare Materials (accessed in Ahmanson Reading Room only):

  • The Library holds more than 11 million items that span from the 11th through the 21st century. Its diverse materials center on 14 intersecting collection strengths.
  • Rare materials can be primary source material or secondary sources. These include rare books, manuscripts, archives, photographs, prints and more.
  • Rare materials must be requested through our online request management system, Aeon. It allows you to:
    • Request materials in advance.
    • Submit requests to page materials via links in the library catalog and finding aids.
    • Submit Imaging Services requests.
    • Track the status of requests for paged items and Imaging requests.

N.B. Please note that Aeon is not a catalog or discovery tool - to learn about search tools, visit our Search Tools page. Aeon is the same system you use to create your reader registration account. Learn more about registering as a reader on our Visit page.

How to Handle Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Visual Materials

To ensure the long-term preservation of our collections, we ask that you abide by the following when carefully handle rare materials:

  • Keep all bound materials in cradles during their use. Book cradles are located to the left of the service desk in the Ahmanson Reading Room. General collection books from the open stacks do not require cradles.
  • To turn a page of a book, lift the top corner and gently slip the fingertips down the edge.
  • Use book weights (provided in the Ahmanson Reading Room) to hold a page open.
  • Avoid touching the surface of text, illustrations or illuminations.
  • Items provided in mylar sleeves are to be kept enclosed in the sleeves.
  • Photographs or negatives unprotected by mylar sleeves should always be used with gloves (provided in the Ahmanson Reading Room).
  • Never force open a book with a tight binding.
  • Wash and thoroughly dry hands, taking care not to apply lotions or gels, before consulting rare materials.
  • Avoid leaning on materials or stacking them.

Requesting Rare Materials with Aeon

Rare materials with the status “RARE –PAGE AEON” may be requested from the catalog record:

1) Click on “Request item via Aeon” button.

2) Log into your Aeon account when prompted.

3) Make sure all fields with an asterisk is completed.

4) Schedule a retrieval date or select “Keep for My Review.”

Rare collections with the status “RARE -PAGE AEON” and a finding aid may be requested through the Online Archive of California (OAC).

If you have found a collection in the catalog with a finding aid, click on “View finding aid and request materials.”

1) Review the available inventory or contents list.

2) Click on the “Request items ↗” button.

3) Log into your Aeon account when prompted.

4) Select a series from the contents list.

5) Select the boxes you wish to see.

6) Schedule a retrieval date or select “Keep for my Review.”

You may use the “New Reading Room Request” forms if you have a reference or citation that is not available in the library catalog. When using a blank request form, be sure to select the correct material type. For collections with multiple boxes or volumes, a separate form should be submitted for each box or volume.

1) Log into your Aeon account.

2) Click on “Manuscripts,” “Rare Books” or “Visual Materials” depending on the material type you are requesting.

3) Fill out the form with the bibliographic details available to you.

4) The fields denoted by a red asterisk are required. If you do not know the details for those fields, please input “unknown” or “not applicable.”

5) Optional: Fill out the “Notes to Staff, Special Requests, and Questions” field to help us locate your request.

6) Schedule a retrieval date, select “Keep for My Review” or “Request Photoduplication Order.”

An item may be restricted due to its rarity, fragility or for preservation reasons. These requests require curatorial review and extended delivery time. If approved, these requests will be brought to the reading room by a curator.

Collections or archives are occasionally restricted at the donor’s request or due to copyright. These collections may also require curatorial approval and extended delivery time.

All requests for restricted materials may be placed following the steps for the Online Catalog.

Paging Schedule

To ensure your requests are available in a timely manner, our paging staff follows a retrieval schedule. The following hours are the times at which Ahmanson Reading Room requests are reviewed and retrieved:

Weekdays: 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m. & 3 p.m.

Saturdays: 10 a.m. & 2 p.m.

Reading room requests typically take one to two hours to retrieve. Delays should be expected during periods of high attendance. We thank you in advance for your patience.

Please see a Reader Services staff member at the Reference Desk, or contact the library, if the delay is unusually long or if you have concerns about the paging schedule and the length of your visit.

N.B. Requests for restricted materials are paged at the discretion of curatorial staff and not according to this schedule.

Tracking Aeon Requests

  • When logging into Aeon, your outstanding requests will be listed on the homepage table. Aeon will track the status of your request:
    • Awaiting Request Processing: Your request has been submitted and will be retrieved at the next paging time.
    • Awaiting Curatorial Approval: Your request requires curatorial review and extended delivery time. If approved, the material will be brought to the reading room by a curator.
    • In Item Retrieval: Paging staff is retrieving the requested material from the stacks/archive.
    • In Ahmanson Reading Room: The requested material is ready for check out at the circulation desk in the Ahmanson Reading Room.
    • On Stacks Reserve: The requested material is ready for check out, but stored in the back room due to its large or bulky size, or limited space on the carts behind the desk.
    • Item Checked Out: The requested material is checked out.
  • You may have a maximum of five active requests at a time.
  • You will be prompted to use the “Keep for my Review” feature for each subsequent request. Once you have returned an item(s) to the Ahmanson Reading Room Supervisor for reshelving, your limit will reopen for a new reading room request(s). Please note that you will have to manually "activate" all Aeon items requested as "Keep for my review," as they will not be automatically pulled once items have been returned.

Aeon FAQs

Related to Requesting Materials:

Can I still request materials through Aeon with the catalog status: IN CONSERVATION, ON EXHIBIT, ON LOAN?
Please email the library to check on the availability of the item(s).

May I request an item or collection with the catalog status of “NOT AVAILABLE”?
Unprocessed collections are not available for research or reproduction requests. However, contact a Library staff member if interested in a collection with the status of “NOT AVAILABLE.” We do take patron requests into account when determining processing and cataloging priorities.

How do I request an unpublished finding aid?
Some catalog records will note “Unpublished preliminary inventory available in repository.” To request an unpublished finding aid, follow the steps provided above for the Library Catalog. In the “Notes to Staff, Special Requests, and Questions” field of the request form, type “Finding Aid.”

Related to Reader Accounts:

I know I have an account, but I can't remember my username.
Your username is printed on your library card. You can also email the library for assistance.

How do I reset my password?
If you have forgotten your password, click on "Request a password reset” on the Aeon login page. Instructions with a reset link will be sent to the email address associated with your registered Aeon username. If you do not receive this email, send a message to the library for assistance.

If I have an Aeon account at a different library, do I need to create a new one for The Huntington?