Using Avery Library: Getting Started: Alumni / Visitors

Welcome to Avery Library!
This guide is intended for Columbia and Columbia-Affiliate alumni and visitors to the library. Before coming to Avery Library, you'll need to obtain library privileges. Please see the links below for more information about obtaining access, and which services are available to you.



Frequently Asked Questions

Can I take Avery Library books out of the library?

Avery Library is a non-circulating library. Avery materials must be used in the library. We have scanners available for your convenience if you wish to take images. To find out about setting books aside for short term use, check out the Temporary Hold Shelf section below.

Where can I pick up books that have been delivered from offsite?

You can pick up offsite items at the Avery Library Service Desk (on the 200 level of Avery Library).

Can I get other Columbia books delivered to Avery?

You’ll need to visit the holding library to use or borrow these materials. For access and circulation policies, please visit the website of the holding library:

Finding a book in Avery Library

In the CLIO record for your book, find the collection (circled below in red) and the call number (circled below in orange). Use this information along with the guide here (also posted at the Avery Library service desk on the 200 level) to find your book. If you have any trouble finding your items, you can ask for assistance at the Service Desk.

Avery location in CLIO record circled in red, call number circled in orange

Avery Special Collections

Avery Classics

Avery Classics location shown in CLIO record

Avery Classics is the name for Avery Library’s rare books collection. These are available by appointment only in our Avery Classics reading room. Information about the collection, research, and making appointments can be found on the Avery Classics page here:

Avery Drawings & Archives

Drawings and Archives location shown in CLIO record

Avery Drawings and Archives collects drawings, photographs, and architectural records documenting architecture and design practices. These materials are available by appointment only in our Drawings and Archives reading room. Information about the collection, research, and making appointments can be found on the Avery Drawings and Archives page here:

Art Properties

Art Properties location shown in CLIO record

Art Properties oversees the art collection owned by Columbia University. These art objects are available by appointment only. Information about the collection, research, and making appointments can be found on the Art Properties page here


If you intend to include Avery Special Collections material in a publication, please request hi-resolution images here.

Accessing Offsite Materials

Materials marked Offsite are stored in an off-campus facility that Columbia Libraries shares with other institutions. This enables multiple institutions to have access to a wider range of materials. These materials are available for request by clicking the “offsite” link under the word Request (circled in orange above). You will be prompted to login with your UNI and taken to an offsite request screen, shown below.

To request your book(s), choose the volume(s) by checking the appropriate box (if there is only one volume, check the box, as shown circled in red). The system will default to the delivery method “item to library” (circled in orange), and you can choose the delivery location of your choice (circled in purple).

Offsite request screen with selected volume circled in red, physical delivery option circled in orange, delivery location circled in purple

The book will be delivered to Avery Library within 1-2 business days, and you will receive an email confirming your request and another once it is available for use. To setup alumni offsite privileges, contact and include your contact information.

Temporary Hold Shelf

To set books aside for short term use, you can ask at the Avery Library Service Desk about using a Temporary Hold Shelf. Patrons may charge up to 5 items to a temporary shelf for up to 2 weeks. These self-service shelves are located on the 200 Level of Avery Library behind the Service Desk, and items are shelved alphabetically by last name of patron. To charge books out to your temporary shelf, please bring them to the Service Desk.

If your research necessitates setting items aside for longer, alumni and visiting researchers are eligible for a Semester Shelf at the discretion of Avery Library Access staff. Please contact for more information.