Fine Arts Library Carrel Policy

All carrel holders agree to abide by the following rules and regulations. Violation of these rules may result in loss of carrel privileges.

Carrel Assignments

The Fine Arts Library has a limited number of study carrels. Priority is given to graduate students and faculty members from the History of Art and Architecture Department (including dual degree students) and curators from the Harvard Art Museums. Other Harvard affiliates and independent researchers with a need to conduct long-term research with FAL collections may also be given consideration.

Applications for carrels are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis. Carrel assignments are typically from September through August of the following year. Assignments must be renewed annually by April 30th.

Hold shelves are also available. To apply for a carrel or hold shelf, contact the FAL Circulation Desk at

Active Use

Carrels are intended for active use. Infrequent users may request a hold shelf to store FAL materials for their research. If you are not actively using your carrel or are not in residence for a semester or more, please contact FAL Access Services so that the carrel can be reassigned, since there is usually a waiting list. Library staff can generate a list of all books charged to your carrel, so that you can reassemble your carrel at a later date. You may re-apply for a carrel upon your return.

Charging Items

Only Fine Arts Library books may be charged to a carrel (excluding periodicals and reference materials, unless they are from HD). All materials at a carrel must be properly charged to that carrel, rather than to your personal library account.

Books charged to a carrel are not allowed to leave the building. If you want to take a book out of the library, you must check it out to your personal library account.

You are fully responsible for the loss of any personal books or materials charged to your personal library account, including books from any other library and books received via interlibrary loan or Borrow Direct. Due to security risks involved, we strongly recommend that you keep at your carrel only those FAL materials charged to that carrel.

Due to space limitations, no more than 35 books may be charged to a carrel at one time.

Personal Items

The Fine Arts Library cannot guarantee the security of personal belongings, including personal books, left in carrels. Do not leave your personal items unattended.


All materials charged to a carrel are subject to recall and removal by library staff. If you are a carrel holder and you recall an item already charged to another carrel or hold shelf, you will be asked to use the item at the carrel/shelf to which it is currently charged.


Fine Arts Library staff reserve the right to inspect carrels routinely and remove any uncharged FAL books.

Shared Carrels

Due to high demand, each carrel may be shared by more than one user. Do not remove or interfere with materials left by others.

Courtesy to Other Patrons

Carrels are intended for quiet reading and research only and should not be used for conferences or long conversations. Other patrons may sit at carrels when they are not being used by the carrel holder. However, carrel holders have seating priority at their own carrels.

Carrel Maintenance

Carrel holders have a responsibility to keep their assigned space neat and tidy. Books should be shelved properly, upright with the spines visible. Improper shelving may cause damage to books, thereby incurring costs for rebinding or replacement. Do not store any materials on the floor. Use the trash receptacles provided to dispose of unwanted items.


Eating, smoking, and talking on cell phones is prohibited in the stacks. Drinking bottled water is permitted.  

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