Guest Access

Our collections and services support the scholarly needs of the University of Pittsburgh faculty, students, and staff; however, we welcome the Pittsburgh community and visiting researchers to access our major academic research library.

Please note that priority is given to the University's faculty, students, and staff, and services for other visitors are subject to some restrictions on their use. Visitors may not find the same kinds of information or resources that they encounter in a neighborhood library or at their own academic institution.

Access to collections for guests

While it is the policy of the ULS to provide reasonable access to the collections for all categories of users, the ULS does make a distinction between access (library use) and borrowing (home use) privileges. In general, you may request items from the Library Collections Storage Unit (LCSU) for use on-site at the Archives Service Center or use the collections at ULS locations, but cannot borrow materials for use at home without a Special Borrower's Card.

  • If you are not affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh, you may purchase a Special Borrower's Card at the Donald S. Wood Service Desk on the ground floor of Hillman Library. The cost of the card is $50.00 for Pitt alumni and $100.00 for all others. The card is valid for a period of one year, but DOES NOT permit access to library-licensed online resources.
  • Non-Pitt patrons without a ULS Special Borrower card may request to view up to five items from the Library Collections Storage Unit (LCSU) by emailing us with your request. Please note: requests for materials may take 3-4 business days to be fulfilled and materials will be made available for access in the Archives Service Center Reading Room or in the Special Collections Reading Room (under certain circumstances, as needed).
  • Reciprocal borrowing accounts for local/regional University affiliates, including Carnegie Mellon University and PALCI members, are not being issued at this time. Please contact your local college or university library for assistance locating library materials.
  • Print books and journals in ULS libraries are available on a self-help basis.
  • Archives, manuscripts, and rare book collections are available through Archives & Special Collections. Contact us for more information. 
  • Certain library resources are available to the public, including special digital collections, any open access electronic books and journals, and PITTCat+, the online library catalog.

Services available for guests

  • Assistance is available in using PittCat, the online library catalog.
  • Assistance is available in locating appropriate collections and services.
  • For services available through Archives & Special Collections, please see our web site or Ask an Archivist. 
  • Telephone and e-mail requests will be handled along with in-person requests in the order received.
  • Brief answers to user reference queries will be provided. For queries that require extensive research, visitors should consult their own institutions' libraries or their public libraries, where further services may be available. Users from Allegheny County, for example, can take advantage of the resources and services of the EIN and the Carnegie Public Library. 
  • Access to Pitt’s licensed electronic resources is available upon request. Visitors from the community and visiting researchers may ask for a temporary guest computer account password at any ULS library. Valid photo ID is required. The temporary guest password may be used at any ULS public device. Please note that there is no printing service associated with access to our electronic resources and the ability to download content may be restricted by certain content providers. Your access will expire at the end of the day (11:00 p.m.) you received the password.
  • Questions? Ask us!