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Special Collections Research Center

Using the Special Collections Reading Room

The Special Collections Research Center welcomes faculty, students, and staff of the University of Chicago and visiting researchers. The Reading Room is reserved for registered users of Special Collections. Since many of the materials are rare or unique, readers are expected to treat all materials with care to avoid loss or damage and to follow these guidelines:

Getting settled in

  • Food and drink are not permitted in Special Collections.
  • Please silence your cell phone, pager, or other messaging device. Headphones are permitted, but please keep the volume low so that you do not disturb other researchers. We reserve the right to ask users to check electronic devices that are not on a silent or quiet setting. Phone calls may not be taken in the reading room.
  • Only materials needed for research may be taken into the Reading Room. Free lockers are available. Please check all briefcases, backpacks, handbags, computer cases, coats, and hats in the locker room. Keep your Chicago Card or day pass with you at all times.
  • Library materials and personal items (including notebooks, laptop computers, books, etc.) are subject to inspection prior to entering and upon leaving the Reading Room.
  • Books, manuscripts, and archival documents are paged for readers and may be used only in the Reading Room.
  • All items charged to the Reading Room must be returned to the front desk at closing time. We are happy to place items on short-term hold for researchers.

Using the Reading Room

  • All written notes are to be taken in pencil. Marking, erasing, or altering Library materials is prohibited.
  • Laptop and computing devices for taking notes are permitted in the Reading Room.
  • We do allow non-flash, self-service digital photography in the reading room. Please see a Special Collections staff member before beginning your photography.  Scanners of any type are not allowed. Please see Copy Services for information on reproduction services.
  • All materials must remain on the surface of the table. When appropriate, readers may be asked to place books and bound manuscripts on book rests or cradles, to use weights for holding books open, or to wear protective gloves. When in doubt about proper handling, please consult the Reading Room staff.
  • Manuscript and archival materials circulate one box or folder at a time.
  • The exact arrangement of unbound materials (papers in folders and folders in boxes) must be maintained. Only one folder may be removed from a box at one time.
  • Readers are permitted to consult multiple printed volumes. Depending on size and condition, Reading Room staff may limit the number of books circulated at one time.

Staff are always happy to discuss these procedures and assist readers. For further information, contact:

Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 E. 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637
Phone: (773) 702-8705
Fax: (773) 702-3728
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