METRO Referrals

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METRO Card Policy for Columbia Students, Faculty and Staff

The Columbia University Libraries is a member of METRO, the New York Metropolitan Reference and Research Library Agency. The Butler Library Reference Department issues METRO Referral Cards, enabling readers to be referred to other METRO member libraries for use of a specific title not available at Columbia or the New York Public Library. The courtesy card cannot be issued for general use at other libraries, nor does it confer borrowing privileges. Researchers may be asked to present a government issued photo ID before they are able to use another library. Columbia affiliates wishing to use collections at METRO libraries are encouraged to call ahead to verify their access policy.

The following statement applies to visitors to Columbia from affiliates of METRO participating institutions. The policy for access to other METRO participating libraries may be similar. 

METRO Card Policy For Visitors to the CU Libraries

The METRO card is issued to a reader to use the Columbia University Libraries (CUL) only if a specific item is not available at the reader's home institution, or in the Public Library system. The card is not issued because it is most convenient for the reader to use the CUL. The privilege granted by the METRO card does not necessarily guarantee availability of the item being requested, nor does it entitle the reader to the use of other resources which may be available.

It is strongly recommended that the referring institution call ahead to verify holdings or collection strengths and any access restrictions before issuing the card. For holdings information, please search CLIO, the online catalog; for access restrictions, call the Library Information Office at (212) 854-7309 or send email to

Persons to whom a METRO card is issued should bring their government issued photo identification and the METRO card to the Library Information Office. The Library Information Office is located just off the main entrance to Butler Library. Office hours may be viewed here. The METRO card will be collected, a temporary reading privileges card will be issued, and the reader will be given assistance in locating the appropriate library which houses the item(s) being requested.

Each visitor may use up to fourteen referral cards each semester. 

METRO cards for materials at the Barnard College, Law, Health Sciences,or Teachers College libraries, should be presented directly at those libraries.

  • Item Referral (yellow card)
    The referral to use a specific item is valid for one day only. We will accept 13 additional referrals from the same person in one Columbia semester.
  • Subject Referral (blue card)
    Subject cards are no longer accepted at the Columbia libraries.


Library Information Office

201 Butler Library
Office Hours
Phone: 212-854-7309