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What is a Reading Room Desk?

Manages in-house use "loans" (access) for 01 and 02 items for Visiting Researchers, Library Guests, and In-Library Use ILL items

Visiting Researchers (locally-created users) and Library Guests (users created by the Privileges office) are eligible to request 01 and 02 policy items for pickup at owning library Reading Room desks only. To track and account for this use, we use Alma's Reading Room functionality, which allows libraries to have a hold shelf for non-circulating materials and to "in house" check-out the in-library-use items in that library. The request and loan process keeps track of in-library use materials coming and going from the hold shelf, such as Harvard Depository materials, bound journal volumes, and ILL in-library-use only pickup.

Depending on the volume of materials, and the physical set up, a library may determine that the Reading Room hold shelf is the same location as the Circulation hold shelf for regular pick-ups, done from a particular check-out computer, or from a separate physical space (such as the Phillips Reading Room at Widener). In any case, the Alma operator must set, or temporarily change, the currently at location in Alma to that library's Reading Room in order to activate holds for such items. If an item is first discharged at the library's regular circ desk, the circulation desk operator will be prompted to transfer the item to the Reading Room Desk for hold activation. If an attempt is made to loan an item on hold at the Reading Room desk from the main circulation desk, the loan will be blocked.

A Hold Shelf for In-Library-Use Resource Sharing Requests

The Reading Room also functions as a hold shelf for Resource Sharing Requests that have been designated "In-Library use only" by the lending institutionAll other patrons should use the regular circ desk for 01 policy items.

Alma User Role Permissions

Staff who need to loan materials from the Reading Room desk will need to submit an updated Alma login request form to add this circulation desk location.



When a Visiting Researcher or Library Guest with a HOLLIS account requests an in-library use item with policy 01 or 02, the only pick-up location is the owning library's Reading Room.

When materials arrive at a library's Circulation Desk, Alma will show the item must go to the Reading Room. The Alma operator must set, or temporarily change, the current location in Alma to that library's Reading Room to notify the patron the item is on hold and ready at the Reading Room.

Items for Visiting Researchers or Library Guests start with a 10-day hold once the patron is notified of its arrival on the Reading Room hold shelf. Once the patron "checks out" the item for the first time (see below for more information on loaning and returning at the Reading Room desk), the hold is removed and the 28 reading room "loan" period begins. Each subsequent time the patron wishes to use the item, staff remove the item from the shelf and "check it out" at the Reading Room desk Alma location. When the patron is done with the material, the item is "returned" at the Reading Room desk until the end of the 28-day "loan" period or until the patron no longer needs the item.

Note: Local Library policy would dictate whether to cancel requests for certain in-library use materials, or to manually shorten or lengthen the time on hold/Reading Room loan period.


To perform the Reading Room "in-house" loan of a non-circulating item:

  1. Change your location to the Reading Room
  2. Go to Fulfillment >> Manage Patron Services
  3. Scan in the patron ID and item barcode
  4. The due date for the loan will display as library closing time 28 days after the initial loan was activated and the loan will appear as With user



Return functionality in the Reading Room differs from regular returns, in that the staff operator indicates a final or not final return.

From either Fulfillment >> Manage Patron Services >> Return tab or Fulfillment >> Returns, select:

  • Not final
    • The patron still requires the resource. The resource returns to the Reading Room hold shelf for the remainder of the 28 day period. 
    • The temporary location changes to that library's Reading Room while on hold. The patron who has the item on hold is shown as the Borrower. 
  • Final
    • The patron no longer requires the resource, and it can be returned to its permanent or next location

Manage Item Returns screen - final return is marked

Returns tab in patron record - final check-in mode is marked



Current List of Reading Room Desks

Current list of Desks designated Alma Reading Room desks:

  • Baker Reading Room Circulation
  • Cabot Reading Room
  • Countway Reading Room
  • Design Reading Room
  • Documents Reading Room
  • Fine Arts Reading Room
  • Harvard Yenching Reading Room
  • Lamont Reading Room
  • Law Reading Room
  • Microforms RR (Lamont)
  • Poetry Reading Room
  • Tozzer Reading Room
  • WID Newspaper MRR
  • WID Phillips Reading Room



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