Policies and Procedures

Policies and Procedures for Museum Staff

I. Library Privileges

Only those with Library privileges may enter and use the non-public areas of the Library, including the Current Literature Room, the Photocopy Room, and the Stacks. Library privileges may be requested by those who have a valid Museum identification badge (valid badges must include a photo and a magnetic strip). For more information on obtaining library privileges, please see our Borrowing and Circulation page.

II. General Policies and Procedures

All new library users should schedule an orientation of the Library to learn how to access Library materials. Library users must wear their valid Museum identification badge when entering non-public areas of the Library. Coats and bags must be left in the designated area at the entrance to the Library. ALL MATERIALS MUST BE CHARGED OUT AT THE CIRCULATION/REFERENCE DESK BEFORE BEING REMOVED FROM THE LIBRARY. At their discretion, Reference Staff may limit the use and/or circulation of especially rare or fragile materials. Please do not reshelve any materials (Library staff will reshelve). ALL LIBRARY MATERIALS MUST BE USED IN THE MUSEUM ONLY. NO MATERIAL MAY BE REMOVED FROM MUSEUM PREMISES.

Library users with full privileges must store Library materials that they have charged out in an area where the item can be accessed and recalled by Library staff (at any time) for use by another patron. Lost Library materials should be promptly reported to the Reference staff. Loss of Library materials, or failure to return recalled Library materials, will result in an invoice to the borrower (or the borrower’s sponsor or supervisor) in the amount of the full replacement cost of the item. Unpaid invoices will result in Library privileges being revoked. Departing Museum staff and associates must return all Library materials before their final day at the Museum.

III. Photocopy Policies

Photocopy machines are to be used for copying Library materials only. Rare, fragile, and oversize materials may not to be photocopied without first consulting a Reference Librarian. The time limit for use of the photocopy machines is ten minutes if others are waiting. Please visit our Reproduction and Licensing page for more information.

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code) governs the making of photocopies and other reproductions of copyrighted materials; those using the photocopy machines are liable for any infringement of this law.

IV. Conservation and Preservation of Library Materials

To avoid putting stress on the bindings of books and journals when photocopying, put the crease of the book or journal along the slanted edge of the photocopy machine and copy one page at a time (rather than pressing the material flat on the machine in order to copy two pages at once). Consult a Librarian before attempting to photocopy rare, fragile, or oversize materials. Do not use paper clips or sticky-notes on any library materials; acid-free bookmarks are available at the Reference Desk.

Materials that are charged out should be treated with care; do not store them near open windows, radiators, air conditioners, etc. Do not eat or drink near library materials. Additional information about the Library’s conservation policies is available from the Conservation Department page. Information and advice about preserving books and papers as well as a list of suppliers for archival materials is also provided.

V. Procedures for Routing New Books

New books and journals are put on display in the Current Literature Room every Monday. Users with full privileges who wish to charge out new books may sign up for them using hold slips provided in the Current Literature Room. These items will be automatically charged out and will be available for pickup at the Reference/Circulation desk the following Monday. It is the borrowers' responsibility to check the hold shelf regularly for materials being held for them. Books are charged out as long-term loans unless others have also signed up for the book. In this case the book is only charged out for a two-week period after which time it must be returned to be routed to the next person on the hold list. New journals do not circulate.

VI. Interlibrary Loan

Because interlibrary loan costs are absorbed by the Library, this service is restricted to those with full library privileges needing loans for work-related research.

Materials are loaned to the AMNH Library as a courtesy, and their conditions of use, including due dates, must be respected. Library users who need interlibrary loan materials for a longer period than the time allotted should discuss this matter with the Interlibrary Loan Manager. The Interlibrary Loan Manager may be able to renew the loan (in order to extend the due date) or borrow another copy of the item from a different library. Failure to return interlibrary loan materials on time jeopardizes the AMNH Library's liaisons with other libraries and could adversely affect other Museum staff needing interlibrary loan services. Users who return interlibrary loan materials late will be served with a formal warning. Users who subsequently return interlibrary loan materials late will lose interlibrary loan privileges.

Visit the Request an Interlibrary Loan page for more information about loan services and policies.

Library users who consistently ignore Library policies will have their privileges suspended or revoked.

Policies and Procedures for the Public

I. General Policies

The collections of the Library have been developed for advanced information and research needs in the subject areas of anthropology, astronomy, geology, paleontology, and zoology. Seekers of general information may be better served by using collections at a New York Public Library branch.

All patrons must leave coats and bags in the designated area at the entrance to the Library, and must register at the Reference Desk before using Library facilities. Patrons may not bring food or drink into the Library, nor use mobile phones there. Patrons are allowed in the Reading Room and in designated areas of Special Collections. The stacks are not open to the public and Library materials cannot be borrowed.

II. Use of the Book and Journal Collection

Patrons may consult the reference collection (which is housed in the Reading Room) or submit call slips to request items from the general collection. Librarians cannot take requests to retrieve materials from the general collection and put them on hold for a patron prior to his/her arrival.  A maximum of ten titles may be requested per patron, per day. Materials will be paged at 2:30, 3:30, and 4:30 only. Patrons must submit picture identification (i.e. driver's license, school ID, etc.) at the time that materials are delivered.  That identification will be held at the Reference Desk until the patron has returned all Library materials.

At their discretion, Reference Staff may limit the use of especially fragile or rare materials. Rare books may be requested by appointment only; those requesting rare materials must complete a form stating the purpose of their research.

The computers located in the Reading Room are provided for research purposes only. These computers may be used to access resources such as the Library's CatalogResearch Databases, and E-Journals.

To request books, patrons should search the Library's Catalog and fill out a yellow call slip (provided at the Reference Desk) for each title that is needed. Patrons requesting journals should fill out a white call slip. All call slips must be filled out completely in order for the request to be processed.

Searching for journal articles on a particular topic is a two-step process. Patrons should begin by searching the Library's Research Databases. Once citations to journals are found, patrons then need to search the Library's Catalog to find out whether the Library owns the journal the article appears in, and to get a call number for retrieving the journal from the general collection.

III. Use of the Photo, Film, Archival, or other Special Collections

Visit Special Collections for information about access and use of photos, film, and archives.

IV. Photocopy Facilities and Services

A self-service photocopy machine is provided in the Library. Copies are $.20 a page. The time limit for use of the photocopy machines is ten minutes if others are waiting.

Rare, fragile, and oversize materials may not be photocopied using the self-service photocopy machine. Library staff will photocopy or scan these materials for you (providing the items are stable enough to be handled). The cost for this service is $0.50 per page. Please visit our Reproduction and Licensing page for more information.

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code) governs the making of photocopies and other reproductions of copyrighted materials; patrons using the photocopy machine are liable for any infringement of this law. 

V. Conservation and Preservation Policies

Patrons must exercise care when using fragile library materials. Under no circumstances may rare or fragile materials be photocopied without first consulting with a Reference Librarian. To avoid putting stress to the bindings of books and journals, materials must be photocopied by putting the crease of the book or journal along the slanted edge of the photocopy machine and copying one page at a time (rather than pressing the material flat on the machine in order to copy two pages at once). Paper clips or sticky-notes on any Library materials are not allowed; acid-free bookmarks are available at the Reference Desk.

For interested patrons, the Library’s Conservation Department has also compiled useful information and advice about preserving books and papers as well as a list of suppliers for archival materials.

VII. Reference Assistance

A Reference Librarian is on duty at all times to assist with research inquiries. Librarians are able to answer inquiries that can be resolved quickly using ready reference resources. For more in-depth inquiries, librarians will advise patrons on how to conduct research using Library resources.

The Library's Catalog as well as the Research Databases provide "Help" information for users who are unfamiliar with searching that database. Patrons should consult this online information for instructions on using the Library's electronic resources.

If you are unable to visit the Museum and cannot locate the information you require, the Museum Library's reference staff (libref@amnh.org) can be contacted for reference purposes. The response time is for inquiries is approximately 4 weeks. Please consult the Library FAQ before making inquiries. Librarians cannot take telephone or email requests to verify the availability of Library materials or to pull an item from the general collection to verify information (with some exceptions for out-of-town researchers).