Study Carrel Reservations

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What is a carrel?

A carrel is a desk in the library that may be assigned to graduate students, faculty, or undergraduates working on a senior honors thesis. Carrels may be used to check books out to a desk within the library. Books checked out to the desk may be stored at the desk for an extended period, unless requested by another patron. The library has several different types of carrels available to qualifying members of the Northwestern Community.

Please read the carrel policies before submitting an application.

Open Carrels

The library has numerous open carrels throughout the Main Library towers.  Current Northwestern graduate students and undergraduates working on a senior honors thesis qualify for an open carrel. Honors undergraduates must supply additional documentation in the form of a letter from their advisor or proof of registration. Open carrel assignments are made between September 1 through June 15 of the academic year. Applications for the academic year will be accepted September 1. Assignments will be made on a first come, first served basis as applications are received. Processing time will vary during periods of high demand.

The Music Library has a small number of desks for graduate students in related subject areas. If you are interested in a desk in the Music Library, please indicate that this would be your first choice in the comments area of the application

Apply for an open carrel

Art Shelves

The Art Library maintains a the Art Research Center on the third floor of Deering Library as shared space for graduate students in Art History and Art Theory and Practice. If you are interested in a shelf in the Research Center, please indicate that this would be your first choice in the comments area of the application.

Closed Shared PHD Carrels

PHD candidate carrels are shared, with two people assigned to each carrel. The demand for PHD closed room study carrels far exceeds supply, and a waiting list is maintained through the Main Library Circulation Desk. The average wait for a PHD closed room study carrel is 8 months, but actual time may vary. Graduate students must already be admitted to candidacy before they may be placed on the waiting list for a closed room study carrel. To apply for the waiting list, please submit a carrel application as well as additional proof of candidacy.

Honors undergraduates and PHD candidates may submit letters verifying their status in person or via email to

Single Closed Carrels

Faculty carrels are single occupancy. To apply, please complete and submit the carrel application.

Carrel Policies

Storage of Library Materials:

  • All materials at open carrels must be properly charged to that carrel. A charge slip must accompany any material kept in the carrel. Closed carrel holders may store books checked out to their personal account and personal copies in their carrel. Uncharged materials should never be kept in carrels and will be removed if found during regular carrel checks.
  • Materials charged to carrels may not be removed from the library. Patrons who wish to take materials charged to their carrel from the library must switch the items to their personal account at the Circulation Desk or a Self-Check Station.
  • Materials may be needed elsewhere for a brief period of use within the library. If materials are removed for one of these reasons a note of explanation will be left in the carrel. Materials will normally be returned within twenty-four hours.

Regulations for the use of study carrels:

  • Assignments normally cover the academic year. In any case, all assignments must be renewed yearly by June 15. Failure to renew by this date may lead to termination of carrel occupancy.
  • Carrels are for reading and research only and are not intended to provide office or conference space. Studies are not soundproof and therefore should not be used for long conversations.
  • Keys for closed carrels will be issued upon receipt of a deposit of $25.00.
  •  No furniture or equipment is to be moved from or introduced into a study, except by arrangement with the Circulation Desk. Heating and cooling ducts must not be covered.
  • Damage to furniture or equipment and necessary repairs or replacements should be reported immediately to the library privileges office.
  • Smoking is not allowed anywhere in the library. Food and beverages are allowed only in the faculty and student lounges.
  • The University Library cannot guarantee the security of personal belongings in any study space.