Access rare and distinctive materials

Stanford University Libraries acquires, preserves, and makes available materials of enduring historic value to support the research needs of Stanford students and faculty and the larger scholarly community. Collections of non-circulating research materials across the Libraries include personal papers of scientists, artists, performers, political activists, and writers; maps; photographs; manuscript drafts; rare books; artists’ books; audiovisual materials; records of departments and organizations; and more.

Staff and patron using maps

Rare and distinctive materials exist in several locations across Stanford University Libraries. Contact the relevant location with any inquiries:

Before your visit

We ask patrons to help us preserve our rare and unique materials for future use by following special handling requirements. Please consult collection handling guidelines prior to your visit.

Register for an Aeon account in order to request materials. There may be limitations on the number of items you can request at one time.

Request materials in advance

Many of our special collections materials are housed offsite, and patrons must request materials at least three full business days before the planned date of use. Place requests for materials via SearchWorks, the Libraries’ online catalog, which may also provide links to finding aids (detailed collection guides) hosted by the Online Archive of California as well as links to related online content. 

Specific policies and guidelines for requesting materials differ across locations. Please consult the pages below for details: 

During your visit

  • Visitors without a Stanford ID will need to supply a government ID and register upon entrance to Stanford Libraries.
  • Please wash your hands before arriving, and do not bring food or drink into Libraries spaces.
  • All personal belongings except for pencils, individual sheets of paper, cell phones, and laptop computers must be placed in a designated storage space before using special collection materials.
  • Non-flash photography of materials for research purposes is typically allowed. When you arrive, please ask reading room staff if there are additional restrictions on photography.
  • Policies on reproduction may differ across collections and types of materials.
  • Library staff are here to help. When in doubt, please ask.