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Using the Library

Information for Readers.

Reading Room Policies

  • Please observe these additional policies in the Special Collections (Ahmanson) Reading Room:
    • Readers may have five rare items on hold in the reading room at a time.
    • Electronic devices must be set to silent. Headphones are permitted but must be kept at a low volume as to not disturb other readers.
    • Digital photography is allowed as long as the device is set to silent and the flash is turned off.
    • Please use the pink paper provided by the reading room staff. Loose-leaf paper and personal notebooks are not permitted.

Special Collections Reading Room

The Special Collections (Ahmanson) Reading Room is reserved for viewing rare (primary source) materials, including rare books, manuscript collections and visual materials. Use your Aeon account to request rare materials for delivery to the reading room; visit the Aeon instruction guide for step-by-step details.

The Special Collections Reading Room is accessible through the Reader Services office. Upon entering the reading room, check in with the attendant at the circulation desk for a seat assignment.

All rare materials are held at the circulation desk. Please see the attendant to obtain your holds and check out rare materials.

Library staff retrieve rare materials at:

  • Monday, Thursday, and Friday: 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday and Wednesday: 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m.
  • Requests submitted after the final retrieval time of the day will be retrieved at 9:00 a.m. the next business day.

Materials are typically delivered to the reading room within the hour. Track your requests in real time on your Aeon account dashboard.

Materials are collected 15 minutes before the reading room closes. At the end of your visit, bring the rare materials to the circulation desk. You may return the materials or keep them on hold for your next visit. Materials will be removed from the reading room after two weeks of no check-out activity.

General Collections Reading Room

The General Collections (Rothenberg) Reading Room is a quiet study space reserved for research with general collections (secondary source) materials, such as printed and published books, journals, magazines, and more.

The General Collections Reading Room has open seating. Feel free to begin working at any open seat.

You may check out or request up to 10 general collection items per day, with a maximum total of 20 items checked out at a time. Materials can be held for 60 days. To return an item, place it on the "Returns" book truck in the Rothenberg. The Huntington's collection is non-circulating; all materials must be used within the library.

General collections materials are self-serve; you can retrieve these materials directly from the shelf. See the Library Map for shelf locations.

The following General Collections stacks areas are open to readers:

  • Central Basement
  • Central Hallway
  • North Hallway
  • North Wing (Second and Third Floors only)
  • Rothenberg Balcony

Materials from these areas must be checked out at the self-checkout station in the Donno Lounge.

The East, South, and North Wing Basements remain closed to readers. You can request general collections materials in closed stacks areas through your My Library account. Instructions for setting up your account and requesting materials can be found on the My Library how-to guide.

  • Materials are paged twice daily: 9:00 am and 1:00 pm. Requests submitted after 1:00 pm will be retrieved the following day.
  • Requested materials are delivered to the holds shelf in the Rothenberg. Find your materials by looking for the bookmark with the last four digits of your library card number.
  • For more information about holds, please speak with the attendant in the Rothenberg.

How to Handle Rare Books, Manuscripts and Visual Materials

To ensure the long-term preservation of our collections, we ask that rare materials are carefully handled as follows:

  • Keep all bound materials in cradles during their use and photography. Book cradles are provided at the Ahmanson attendant's desk. General collection books do not require cradles.
  • Unbound manuscripts and visual materials must remain flat on the desk.
  • To turn a page, lift the top corner and gently slip your fingertips down the edge.
  • Use book weights to hold pages open. Book weights are provided at the Ahmanson attendant's desk.
  • Avoid touching the surface of text, illustrations or illuminations.
  • Items enclosed in a plastic sleeve must remain in the sleeve.
  • Photographs and negatives unprotected by a plastic sleeve should always be handled with gloves provided by reading room staff.
  • Never force open a volume with a tight binding.
  • Wash and thoroughly dry hands, taking care not to apply sanitizing gels or lotion, before consulting rare materials.
  • Avoid leaning on or stacking materials.