Guidelines for Use of Special Collections

Materials in Special Collections are available for use Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. except during University and Law School holidays. Materials may not be requested or retrieved after 4:30 p.m.


Scheduling and Registration

Researchers wishing to use materials from Special Collections should contact either the Director of Special Collections or the Reference/Legal History & Rare Books Librarian, who will arrange for access to the materials. It is best to make arrangements in advance for use of the collections to ensure ready availability. All researchers register at the Reference Desk by completing a Special Collections Research form and showing photographic identification. At the conclusion of research, researchers sign out at the Reference Desk.


Securing Your Belongings

All belongings must be secured either in the office of the Director of Special Collections or the Reference/Legal History & Rare Books Librarian before beginning research. Only looseleaf paper, pencils, loupes, laptop computers, and cell phones are allowed in the Rare Books Room. Digital camera use is permitted on a case-by-case basis.  Looseleaf paper and pencils are available at the Reference Desk. 


Using Special Collections

Rare materials may be used only in specified locations. Either the Director of Special Collections or the Reference/Legal History & Rare Books Librarian will retrieve the books or archival materials sought by the researcher. The researcher may work with a maximum of two books at a time, and in certain cases, depending upon the material, the researcher may be permitted to work with only one book at a time. If using archival materials, the researcher may work with one box only at a time. Archival documents must be maintained in their arranged order. If you find that archival documents are out of order, do not refile them, but alert the Director of Special Collections who will examine the box and refile the documents. Looseleaf paper, pencils, loupes, laptop computers, and cell phones are the only items permitted in the Rare Books Room. Digital camera use must be approved by the Director of Special Collections or the Library Director.

Absolutely no food or drink allowed when working with Special Collections materials. 


Handling Rare Items

Researchers must follow all Library instructions regarding  handling rare materials. Many are unique or fragile. Please note carefully the following:

  • Researchers are asked to handle rare materials with the utmost care, and must use any book support, such as a cradle, as instructed by the Library. In most cases, rare books should not be laid flat on the study table, but should be placed in a cradle for support. Books may not be placed in the lap or in any other position off the table and cradle. Do not lean on any book.
  • Researchers should handle pages by their edges to avoid bending or soiling, and may be requested to wear cotton gloves provided by the Library.
  • Use only the book snakes provided to assist in holding a book open; no other weight or apparatus is permitted.
  • Do not write or make marks in any book, fold the pages of any book, or use adhesive markers such as “post-it” notes.
  • Notes must be taken on paper laid on the table, not laid on the book. No tracings or rubbings may be made of any pages or binding of any book.
  • Should you find any unopened pages (pages which have not been cut), do not attempt to cut the pages yourself. Please bring the book to the Director of Special Collections or the Reference/Legal History & Rare Books Librarian.
  • Should you wish to photocopy or scan any pages, please contact the Director of Special Collections or the Reference/Legal History & Rare Books Librarian, who will determine whether the material may be photocopied/scanned, and will make the photocopies or scans. In some cases, rare materials may be too fragile or too tightly bound, and the request will be denied.
  • The researcher is responsible for obtaining all necessary permissions to publish material from Special Collections, and for compliance with all laws relating to copyright and defamation which may pertain to their use of the materials.


At the Conclusion of Your Research

When you have finished your research session, bring the book or archival box with which you were working to the Reference Desk, and ask the librarian to contact either the Director of Special Collections or Reference/Legal History & Rare Books Librarian, to whom you will return the materials. Alternatively, you may remain in the Rare Books Room and contact either of the above by cell phone. At this time your belongings will be returned to you and you will sign out at the Reference Desk.


Publication Resulting From Special Collections Research

The Law Library appreciates receiving copies of publications resulting from research in Special Collections, and also appreciates and requests acknowledgment of use of the collections.


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