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DDC Reading Room Policies and Procedures: Home

This guide provides instructions and background for tasks that occur in the DDC reading room.


This guide is meant to provide an overview of what you can expect when staffing the Department of Distinctive Collections Reading Room.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask a member of the reference team for assistance!

How to Use this Guide

The first two tabs contain information about desk duties and policies and procedures when welcoming users in the reading room.

Information on how to complete tasks in the Distinctive Collections Request System Client/App can be found on the other tabs. There you will find information on terminology and the types of queues in the Request System and step by step instructions with screenshots of workflows. On the last tab, we have included information on special situations that can arise when working the reference desk.

Below, find information on common questions you may answer while working the reference desk in person or via phone and sources for how to answer.

Frequently Asked Questions


For questions about hours, planning a visit, or requesting an appointment

  • Direct users to our website,
  • Hours and information on requesting appointments are in "Visit us" section
  • Note that appointment requests and materials requests in the Distinctive Collections Request System must be submitted in full at least 4 days in advance (e.g. by Friday morning for a Tuesday morning appointment). 

Reference Questions

Answer quick reference questions on the phone or in person when possible.

For more involved questions, have user submit their question via Ask DDC form or email

Genealogy / Questions about People

Research guidance available at the MIT People LibGuide (

We cannot verify enrollment or employment

Following up on Ask DDC Submission

Have they received a response from staff?

  • If yes and contacting staff is known:
    • Forward their call to that staff member
  • If no:
    • Explain that we attempt to answer questions as they arrive in our queue
    • Note that someone should be in touch them shortly.
    • Message Public Services Manager or other reference staff  to notify them of the call.

Donation Offers

All offers must be submitted via the Donation Offer Form on our website ( )

Notify the DDC Collections Strategist of any communications

MIT Libraries General Collections

Refer users to either:

MIT Museum

At times, we receive questions about materials at the MIT Museum, particularly historic MIT photographs. Photographs and artifacts historically were separated from DDC collections and sent to the museum.


For questions about specifications and submitting theses:


If a user wants to image a folder they looked at:

  • They can select "order a copy" when looking at that specific request in the Request System
    • by default it will create a new request  at the folder level
    • to specify individual items for imaging, items should be indicated with flags located behind the desk

Information regarding file standards, fee schedules, and turn-around:

For questions about order status, payment, or download, email


Official policy at

The collection status and if DDC has a gift agreement could impact the ability to publish.
MIT cannot grant permissions for collections without a gift agreement.