Reading room policies & procedures

The Field Reading Room is reserved for users of Special Collections and University Archives materials.  Because the vast majority of the department's holdings are unique, rare, or extremely fragile, we ask patrons to help us preserve these materials for future scholars by following these special handling requirements:

  • Arrive with clean hands, washed with only soap and water. Lotions are to be avoided before handling materials as they contain harmful residues.

  • Special Collections materials do not circulate.

  • Food and drink are not permitted.

  • All personal belongings, except those necessary for research (such as single sheets of paper, pencils, cell phones, and laptop computers), should be placed in the reading room lockers. This includes coats, backpacks, three-ring binders, spiral bound notebooks, and laptop cases. Legal pads and laptop cases will also need to be placed inside a locker.

  • All books must be used in a foam cradle. A staff member will provide you with the appropriate cradle and book weights.

  • Manuscript and archival materials must lie flat on the tables; do not place items in your lap or hold them up. Do not rest objects or take notes on top of materials.

  • Nitrile gloves may be required to handle some of our materials, particularly negatives, photographs, metal objects, and prints. A staff member will provide a pair for you. Our gloves are both latex and powder free.

  • Photography is allowed; however, there is a strict protocol for following procedures which will be explained at the Reading Room desk.

  • Personal copiers and scanners are not allowed.

  • Researchers are allowed to view five books at one time.

  • Researchers are allowed to use one box and one folder from the box at a time. Please take care to keep the documents in the file in the order in which you found them.

  • The use of cell phones (other than for photography) is prohibited.


Scanning is done by Special Collections staff only. Staff will decline scanning requests if the materials are fragile or may be damaged by the duplication process. 

Providing reproductions does not constitute permission to publish or reproduce images in print or electronic form. For more information regarding our duplication services, please our section on requesting copies. Please note that we do not reproduce entire books or manuscript boxes (or substantial portions of either) unless authorized.

Permission to publish or broadcast

Formal written permission is required from the Department of Special Collections and University Archives prior to publishing or rebroadcasting any item or work, in whole or in part, held by the Department. For permission to publish or quote from any of our materials, please submit your request to the department. More information can be found on our permissions page.

Access to health information policy

For collections that fall under our Access to Health Information Policy, researchers must apply to the department in advance before consulting archival materials. The policy applies to collections or specific materials in collections that Special Collections and University Archives have identified as containing health information of individuals. If a collection falls under this policy, a note will be placed in the collection's finding aid and online catalog record. To determine whether a collection falls under this policy, please consult the bibliographic record for the collection. For further clarification, please contact Public Services.