Using Avery Library: Getting Started: CU / Affiliate Faculty

Options for Reserving Materials

Reserves and Seminar Shelves

Avery Library offers two options for setting aside collections of materials for your class: reserves and seminar shelves. You can see the features of each and compare options below.


  • Good for larger classes.
  • Lists are sent to library staff ahead of time, pulled by library staff, and kept behind the desk. The reserves form can be found here:
  • Up to 45 books can be added to reserves for a particular course.
  • Students can check out the books for two hours at a time for use in Avery Library to ensure ample time for all students to access the material.
  • In addition, any electronic resource in CLIO can be added to a reserve list. Since reserves are linked in Courseworks, this provides a convenient way for students to get directly to the electronic resource, rather than having to search for it in CLIO.

Seminar shelf:

  • Good option for smaller classes.
  • Faculty or TAs pull items from the stacks and check them out to the shelf.
  • The shelf is accessible to anyone using Avery Library. CLIO records for these items will include a note as to which shelf they are charged out to.
  • Seminar shelves can hold up to 34 books at one time, and items can be kept there for the duration of the semester. 
  • Because items are checked out to the shelf, items can be added or removed at any time by faculty, TAs, and students in the class in response to the changing needs of the class. Books can simply be brought to the Avery Service Desk and checked out to the appropriate shelf.
  • There is no time limit for in-library use of books charged to seminar shelves.

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.

Are there any exceptions when it comes to taking books out of the library?

Avery Library is a non-circulating library. Avery Library materials must be used in the library; however, you may have circulating materials from offsite or Borrow Direct delivered to Avery Library for pickup. These can be taken out of the library. If you have any questions about a specific item, you can ask at the Avery Library Service Desk. To find out about setting books aside for continued use, check out the Temporary Hold Shelf and Semester Shelf sections below.

Where can I pick up offsite or Borrow Direct books?

You can pick up these items at the 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:

Once I find a book in CLIO, how do I locate it in Avery Library?

In the CLIO record for your book, find the collection (circled below in red) and the call number. 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 trouble finding your items, you can ask for assistance at the Service Desk.

If you only need one chapter of a book or one article from a print journal, you may request it via Scan & Deliver. The item will be scanned and emailed to you within 1-2 business days.

Avery LC collection in CLIO record circled in red, call number circled in orange, Scan & Deliver link circled in purple

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

Offsite location in CLIO record circled in red, offsite request link circled in orange

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. You will be prompted to login with your UNI and taken to a request screen.


You now have two options:

1. If you want the book delivered, choose the volume(s) by checking the appropriate box (if there is only one volume, check the box, as shown circled below in red). The system will default to the delivery method Item to Library. You'll see here that Avery Library is selected as the preferred delivery location on the drop down menu. The item 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.

2. If you want just one chapter of a book or one article from a print journal, request Electronic delivery and fill out the necessary information under "citation", and a pdf file of your material will be emailed to you. Electronic delivery may not be available for all offsite items.

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

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.

Semester Shelf

All current CU affiliates are eligible to apply for a Semester Shelf. These applications are found on the door of Avery 229, along with a place for the completed applications. Users may have 17 books charged out to their shelf at one time, and Avery Library books can be charged out to the shelf for the semester. As the books are charged out to a physical location (which will show in CLIO - for example: "Checked out to Shelf 123"), other library users may consult the materials when not in use. To charge a book out to your shelf, bring it to the Avery Library Service Desk.

While you wait for your Semester Shelf assignment, you may use a Temporary Hold Shelf to set aside items for short term use.