Main Stacks Access - Borrowing

University of Illinois Library Main Stacks

Anyone 18 or older may apply for a courtesy borrowing card that will entitle them to have materials retrieved from the Main Stacks for their use. For more information please visit the Main Library Circulation Desk.

Entry Policies

Faculty, staff, and students currently employed by or enrolled in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign can enter the Main Stacks with a valid i-card.

Faculty from I-Share schools, as well as graduate students from the U of I Chicago and Springfield campuses, can enter the Main Stacks with valid ID from those schools.

LH courtesy card holders can enter the Main Stacks with a valid LH card.

University Laboratory High School students with a valid school ID card and prior approval from the University High School librarian can be granted Main Stacks access.

Unaffiliated users with research needs may request a temporary exception to this policy. Written requests for Main Stacks access should be made in advance through the Main Stacks Access webform.

Entering the Main Stacks

If you have access to the Main Stacks:

  • Present your ID card to the staff member at the circulation desk.
  • For the security of the collection, no food or beverages, backpacks, bags, parcels, or purses are allowed in the Main Stacks. Lockers are available to store your belongings while you are in the Main Stacks.
  • Please check out the items you wish to borrow at the circulation desk before exiting. If the security gate alarm sounds, please return to the desk.

If you need assistance, please ask. We’re here to help!

Please note: Lockers are only available for patrons while using the Main Stacks. The lockers are emptied daily.

Reasons for Limited Access

Safety and usability

Built in 1924, the Main Stacks were designed as closed stacks. Lighting is limited, ceilings are low in several locations, and there are few study areas. It is a large area, spanning 15 decks. Limited assistance from staff is available to patrons within the Main Stacks.

Preservation is key

Many of the materials are early editions and fragile. Preserving these materials and collections for future generations of users is a fundamental mission of the University Library.

Security of the collections

Theft has claimed various valuable resources. Restricted access and monitored entry are key to the protection of material within.