Library Special Collections

The Flaxman Library Special Collections at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago house an array of archives, rare films, artists’ publications, and other unique materials that support SAIC’s curriculum and allow for in-depth research with original source materials. All Special Collections are non-circulating, as they require special stewardship, but are made as widely available as possible for teaching and learning. We welcome class visits (by appointment) as well as individual researchers from the School and the general public. Representations of many of our Special Collections can be found in SAIC Digital Collections.

Remote video URL

Faculty Access

You can book a class visit to the Joan Flasch Artists' Book Collection/Flaxman Library Special Collections at any point in the semester, either by sending an email to, via phone during business hours, 312.899.7486, or in person.

Email reservations require the following information: 

  • Name, department, and course title.
  • The exact date and time you would like to come in or a range of possible dates. Visits can range from a minimum of 45 minutes to the entire class period.
  • The accession number(s) of the item(s) requested (we do not need title or author information.) Ideally, all items need to be requested two working days in advance. All titles that are labeled "Restricted Access" cannot be pulled by the student assistants. To view those please send an email directly to, a minimum of one working day in advance. These works can then be viewed and handled by you and your students just like all other collection material.

To make your selection of material, please start by browsing our Digital Collections.

For the safety and necessary supervision of the collection we will minimize the amount of any additional titles that can be pulled while the class is in session.

If you are unsure about selecting the most pertinent material for yourself and your students we are happy to assist you. In that case please email your syllabus to and we can make recommendations or prepare a selection for you.

Fall and Spring Semester Hours start Tuesday, September 5 
Monday–Thursday: 9:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m. 
Friday: 9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. 
Saturday: 10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. (only for scheduled class visits) 
Sunday: Closed

Propose an Event or Exhibition

Please see Propose an Exhibition, Event or Artist Intervention on our Policies page.


Artists’ Books Resources 
A research guide with resources on artists’ books and self-publishing. 

Chicago Art Galleries Project 
An essential resource illuminating the history of key Chicago art gallery spaces and related archival collections.