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Guide to Using Special Collections at the Yale University Library: Request

Why do I need to request materials?

Most special collections materials at Yale are stored in secure, closed stacks that are only accessible to staff members, and many of our collections are stored in an off-site facility, requiring extra time to retrieve materials for patron use in our reading rooms. By requesting materials online prior to your visit to a special collections reading room, our staff can ensure that everything will be ready for you when you arrive.

Registering for and requesting materials from Special Collections repositories is increasingly done in Aeon, a workflow and materials' control software designed for special collections libraries and archives. Thus far, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library and Manuscripts and Archives are employing Aeon for requesting materials. Other Yale repositories are soon to follow.

Requesting Collection Material from Orbis

Books, periodicals, microfilm, and other individally cataloged items from special collections units can be requested directly form an Orbis record once you've found something you want to use in one of our supervised reading rooms. For catalogued materials found at either the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library or at Manuscripts and Archives, the request process is expedited by a link from the Orbis record to your Aeon special collections account, which you set up when you complete our online registration process. The image below illustrates where to find the Request link in an Orbis record. 

Reference archivists are available to help you in a special collections reading room whenever they're open. Please contact the relevant special collections unit if you need help requesting material from Orbis.

Requesting Collection Material from the 'Aeon New Request Form'

Access Aeon at the Special Collections at Yale University Library page. Select the relevant repository. For Beinecke and Manuscripts and Archives:

Click on the New Request link (or applicable request type under New Request) in the navigation menu on the left of the page. One request form must be submitted for each box, volume, or item requested.


To search, enter the call number or the collection’s title in the Call Number or Title fields. Wait a moment for the auto-fill. If your text matches a catalog record, you will be able to select the collection’s title and populate the form.


Schedule your visitation date press the Submit Request button to send the request to the repository. At this stage, you may also elect to Keep for My Review if you're unsure if you want to immediately order the box; doing so allows you to queue any number of requests without ordering them, important as most repositories allow you to order just ten items per visit.


You can find your request by accessing Previous Requests, found in the navigation menu. The Status column on the right will update as the item is physically moved from one place to another. Ultimately, when this reads "On Hold", it's available for your use at the repository.


Click the Transaction Number to track, edit, cancel, or clone the request.

Note that you may alternate between special collections repositories that use Aeon's request system by selecting one from Other Yale Special Collections in the navigation menu.




Requesting Collection Material from YFAD

Finding aids in YFAD for collections found at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library or at Manuscripts and Archives include links that permit a researcher to easily request materials for use in a special collections reading room. In the example illustrated below, a researcher interested in collection materials on redwoods and Muir Woods contained in several folders in Box 65 would click on the Request Box 65 link, which populates a request form in the researcher's Aeon special collections account. This is the account you create when you complete the online registration process. Once you've logged into your Aeon special collections account, you simply need to select the date on which you are planning to come in and use the requested material, and submit the request. Be aware that while you are limited to 10 active requests at a time, you can keep as many requests as you like in review, allowing you to move them into active status as you finish using boxes you're requested.

As with Orbis, reference archivists are available to help you in a special collections reading room whenever they are open. Please contact the relevant special collections unit if you need help requesting material from YFAD.

Requesting Material from other Yale Special Collections Libraries

The following repositories have yet to implement Aeon as their materials request system. Follow the links for more information about placing requests at each of them.

Haas Arts Library Special Collections

Divinity Library Special Collections

International Collections

  • Due to the nature of their collections, it's best to contact the librarian or curator responsible for the geographic area that you're interested in researching. The librarian will be able to help determine how best to access and visit these materials. Begin at the International Collections portal.

Lewis Walpole Library

  • General information.
  • Send an email to the Lewis Walpole Library's staff at least one day in advance of your intended visit.

Medical Historical Library

Gilmore Music Library Special Collections