American history: D. Procedures
Special Collections and University Archives holds materials that may be unique, valuable, and rare. Our broad task is to both provide access to these materials and preserve them over time. Our procedures are necessarily different from a general library because of these factors.
We ask that visitors sign in at our front desk when they come into Special Collections and University Archives. No food or drink is allowed. Bags and backpacks are not allowed in the Reading Room, but can be placed in the lockers by our front desk. Patrons can bring a computer and a notebook into the Reading Room. Digital cameras are allowed, but permission to use them but be requested prior to their use. A few collections have restrictions that do not permit photographs to be taken. If you plan to write while in the Reading Room, we ask that you use a pencil instead of a pen, and we have pencils on hand for patron use. Again, all of these rules are in place to help protect and preserve the materials.
Importantly, materials in Special Collections and University Archives are not "checked out," that is, they do not leave Special Collections and University Archives. Patrons work with materials in the Special Collections Reading Room.
Also, Special Collections and University Archives' stacks/shelves are not open to the public. This is standard operating procedure for any archival repository. We operate under a closed-stack situation where materials are requested by patrons and brought to them for their use in the Reading Room.
How does this work?
If you know exactly what you want to see, for example, a specific book or collection, you can come in, ask for it at at our front desk, and a member of our staff will bring the materials to you for your use in the Reading Room.
More likely, if you have an interest, assignment, or project and you want to know if we have materials that may be appropriate, then we ask you to come in to speak with us about that interest, assignment, or project. As any reference librarian would, we will ask you about your project, use the tools available to us (they are available to you as well; see the Research part of this Guide) to locate appropriate materials and will bring them to you for your use in the Reading Room.