984 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL | (773) 384-3352 | Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, & Sundays, 11AM-4PM

Library Services


PMAL offers membership for a $25 annual fee. PMAL membership is also included in PMA Museum membership/Patron, Patron level and above. Full payment is due at the time of application or renewal of membership. Current contact information and a photocopy of a valid, government issued, photo ID are also required.


Borrowing privileges are granted to PMAL members who are in good standing.
All current library cardholders are allowed to check out a maximum of 30 items on a current account. This includes any combination of items. During a 3-month introductory period, new members are limited to 6 items.
Fines are charged only if materials are returned late. Failure to pay accrued fines will result in the borrower’s account being blocked and library services restricted.
The Library accepts payments in the form of personal check, money order, traveler’s check (all over $5 with proper identification), and cash in any amount. PMAL also accepts checks drawn against other banks outside Illinois with proper identification.

Paperback & hardcover books; circulating magazines – 30 Item Limit;  30 days Loan Period; 10 cents/ day Late Fine per item
Cassette tapes & CDs;  VHS tapes & DVDs – 6 Item Limit;  30 days Loan Period; 10 cents/ day Late Fine per item

Deposits on Special Books
$10.00 or the price of the book, as deemed appropriate by PMAL, is required as a deposit on specific editions. Deposit is refunded to the patron once the item is returned to PMAL.

Renewing Library Materials
All patrons may renew materials over the phone for an additional four weeks (except for restricted items).

Placing Holds
Patrons may reserve materials, and will be notified by phone when the requested materials are available.

Returning Library Materials
Materials checked out from PMAL should be returned on time and in person to the Library.
Late materials will accrue fines; see note above.

Fees for Damaged or Lost Items
Patrons will be assessed a repair fee for materials damaged while they were checked out. Item Damaged:
Books; A/V materials – $12.00 fee per item
Magazines – $4.00 fee per item
Pamphlets; clippings; book jackets or covers; board book cases; slipcases, boxes, or covers for A/V materials – $1.00 fee per item

If an item is lost, the patron will be required to pay for the library material and any associated overdue fines. Once paid for, the item belongs to the patron. If the item is found within 30 days of the date it was paid for, a refund can be obtained by bringing the item and receipt to the library.

PMAL will not hold patrons responsible for items damaged or lost in fire, flood, or theft when documented by a police or insurance report.

Suspension of Borrowing Privileges
Patrons will not be allowed to borrow PMAL materials until any outstanding issues are resolved. This includes renewing lapsed memberships; returning overdue materials; and paying fines or fee.

Non-circulating items The following may only be used within the Library Reading Rooms:

  • Reference materials, such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc.
  • Books in the general collection published pre-1945. Titles in Rare Books and Cymelia Collections are not available for general use.
  • Periodicals, magazines, and newspapers, excluding specifically marked Circulating items.
  • Photocopies may be made on-site; see “PMAL Services” below.

Confidentiality of Patron and Circulation Records
Pursuant to (75 ILCS 70), the Library Records Confidentiality Act, patron and circulation records of the PMAL are strictly confidential and not subject to disclosure to the public or to any law enforcement officers except by court warrant. Library employees and any agents of the library are bound to observe this confidentiality.

Use of Library

PMAL is open to all visitors. However, we ask that patrons do not:

  • Engage in any illegal activity or behavior
  • Vandalize library facilities, equipment, or materials
  • Enter without shoes or shirt
  • Harass other library users or library staff (physical, sexual, or verbal abuse)
  • Sell, solicit, panhandle, or loiter
  • Distribute leaflets or post notices not authorized by PMA
  • Eat, drink, smoke, or sleep
  • Leave children unattended
  • Talk loudly or make noise that other library users can hear
  • Remove library materials from the building without charging them out
  • Enter the library if you have neglected your bodily hygiene so that it gives offense and constitutes a nuisance to other patrons
  • Use another person’s library card without that person’s permission as doing so is expressly forbidden
  • Enter a controlled or restricted area without prior permission.


Library Patron Bill of Rights
Please do:

  • Expect courteous treatment
  • Ask a librarian for help
  • Call or come in for Reference and Information Service
  • Check-out circulating books and other materials
  • Suggest new materials and services
  • Expect to register for library cards and pay fines without undue red tape or delays

Understand that library customers who are children have the same rights and responsibilities as adult library customers.

Reading Room Rules
The PMAL has two Reading Rooms: the main Library, and the Library Annex.
The following rules apply to all areas. Please also be aware of the PMAL’s general security and conduct rules.

  • For security and conservation purposes, certain items are not allowed in the reading rooms. These items include:
    • Food
    • Beverages
    • Scanners
    • Scotch tape, glue, scissors, or sticky notes
    • Pencils, not pens, must be used.
  • Personal digital cameras are allowed in the reading rooms, subject to certain rules and conditions.
  • Handbags, briefcases, book bags, etc. must be closed and placed on the floor.
  • Books must be supported as evenly as possibly to prevent strain on the bindings. Staff will provide futons, book weights, and book stands as necessary.
  • Handle Library materials with clean, dry hands; staff will provide gloves as appropriate.
  • Do not mark pages or write on paper laid on top of a book.
  • If you find uncut pages, please bring the item to the Library desk. Never try to cut them yourself.
  • Carefully unfold and refold maps and fold-outs. If the item is large or you are unsure of the folding sequence, see a staff member for assistance.
  • Turn off or silence your cell phone in the Reading Rooms.

Security Cameras
The PMAL utilizes security cameras throughout the facility to enhance the protection of our resources. The cameras are monitored continuously by Security Staff, and the footage is archived.

PMAL Services

Reproduction Services
The PMAL is pleased to offer reproductions from our collections.
While we attempt to accommodate the research and publication needs of our patrons, limitations may apply. Some items may be too damaged or too fragile to be copied. The reproduction service operates in strict compliance with U.S. Copyright Law.

Copyright Notice
The Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material, and stipulates that such copies can be provided only under certain specified conditions. To wit, such copies are not to be used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research. Thus, permission to photocopy or otherwise reproduce images does not constitute permission to publish.
If you are interested in the possibility of republishing copyrighted material, you will need to gain the permission of the copyright holder. For both copyrighted and public domain materials Commercial Publication Fees may apply.

Reproduction Fees
8.5 x 11” – $0.25 per page*
8.5 x 14” – $0.30 per page*
Microfilm copies: $0.50 per page*
      *50% discount for PMAL members
Photocopies from archival collections:
8.5 x 11” – $1.00 per page
8.5 x 14” – $1.50 per page
Computer printouts:    $0.10 per page
Images taken with personnel camera without flash by special permission only: $0.25 per image

General Library Research
Preparation of library materials, including research – $10.00 per hour/minimum – $10.00
Assistance in microfilm research – $20.00 per hour/minimum – $20.00

Music Collection Sheet Music Reproductions
2-4 pages – $10.00 flat fee
5+ pages – $5.00 per page
Copies of sheet music are to be made on the PMAL copier by a Staff member-only

Translation Services
Brief, spoken translations – $5.00
Written – $25.00 minimum fee
English-to-Polish, $0.15 per word
contemporary Polish-to English, $0.15 per word
old Polish (pre-1945)-to-English, $0.30 per word
See also: PMAL Translation Services Request Form

Obituary Search $5 (PMAL members) or $8 (non-members) per name & date

Rush Rates within 3 business days: add 50% Must be approved by PMAL

Mailing Fees
1-4 pages         $1
5-10 pages       $3
11-20 pages     $5
21-30 pages     $7
31+ pages        $0.25 per page

Book Donations

The Polish Museum of America Library is thankful for donations of useful books and other materials for our collection, which provide important information about Poland and Polish culture, language, and history for research, reading, and community service.
Materials in good condition are of continuing value and an asset to our existing collection. Some duplicates may be added to our collection if a demand is anticipated; otherwise they will be sold in the annual PMAL book sale to raise much needed funds for the continuous collection building and conservation and restoration efforts.
If donated items are in poor physical condition or are not appropriate for the collection in terms of subject matter or other criteria, they may be disposed of through exchange, donation, or other means, such as our annual book sale.
The Polish Museum of America Library and its staff unfortunately do not have the resources to prepare detailed inventories of gifts and, by law, can assume no responsibility for estimating the value of gifts. Donors may include inventories and estimates of value in their personal donation records.
Donations of books and other materials are accepted during regular hours of operation, at the discretion of the librarian. Donated materials should not be left outside the building.

Acceptable Donations:

  • Paperback and hardcover books in good condition, both fiction and non-fiction, for children and adults connected with the Polish-American/ Polish subject matter.
  • CDs and DVDs

Non-Acceptable Donations:

  • Books which have been stored in basements
  • Magazines (including National Geographic) or non-Polish newspapers
  • Cassette and VHS tapes

Our Team