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Help Guide

Viewing Materials On-Site

Many materials in Explore Chicago Collections cannot be viewed online. Records in the Explore Chicago Collections portal often describe physical collections housed at member institutions (there is not a single Explore Chicago Collections location).  In these cases, on-site visits will be necessary to view items in person.

Scheduling Your Visit

Appointments: To receive research assistance from a librarian or archivist at a member institution, you may need to make an appointment. Additionally, to view certain types of materials, you may need to request that these materials be made available before you visit. Contact the institution listed as the owner of the item you wish to see to learn more about local procedures for pulling materials in advance.

Hours: Special collections and archives may have limited hours. Check their website for hours before your visit.

What to Bring: Some institutions may require a school or State ID. Check individual library/special collections websites for requirements.

Fees: Fees are usually associated with photocopying or scanning materials.  Acceptable forms of payment may vary and you may need cash or coins. Use of some items may be protected by copyright so it's best to ask the librarian or archivist about making a reproduction of an item.  See Copyright & Permissions for more information.

What to Expect During Your Visit

Special collections and archives house rare and fragile materials.  In order to preserve these items rules have been established to protect them.  Some of these rules may include but are not limited to:

  • On-site registration
  • Bans on food, drinks, and gum
  • No pens
  • Cell phones must remain off
  • Coats and bags may need to be checked or stored in lockers
  • White gloves may need to be worn when handling certain items

For more information on what to expect when visiting archives, visit The Society of American Archivists' Planning to Visit an Archives and Purdue University Online Writing Lab's Visiting the Archives

Visiting Chicago Collections Member Institutions

Need to find information on how to contact or visit a specific Chicago Collections member institution? Information on how to contact institutions and information on where they're located can be found on the EXPLORE Chicago Collections Libraries and Archives page. Click "More info" next to the institution you're interested in visiting to see this information.