The books, manuscripts, and other materials housed in the Special Collections & University Archives Department must normally be used in the Department’s reading room and do not circulate outside the Department. Occasional exceptions are made for students, professional staff, and faculty on an ad hoc basis, primarily for books that are still in-print and which would be relatively easy and inexpensive to replace (at the borrower’s expense) should they be lost or damaged. Recent imprints from the James Wills Bollinger Collection of Lincolniana, the Iowa Authors Collection, Special Collections Reference, and the Szathmary Collection of Culinary Arts are examples of candidates for circulation. Rare, unique, exceptionally fragile, and expensive materials do not circulate.

Loaned materials circulate for a short period, typically overnight but with good reason from two to four days. One week is generally the maximum period. Patrons will not be required to leave an identification card to secure the loan, but they will be asked to show picture identification to the staff and will be required to supply a local address and ID number.

Loaned books must be returned directly to Special Collections and not left in return boxes or with the Libraries’ Circulation Department.

Directions for use of rare book & manuscript materials for class presentations


  • Class members are asked to stow coats, backpacks, computers, and other items not needed during the presentation either at the west end of the classroom or against the other walls. The table top must generally be clear of anything but notepads or notebooks, lead pencils (wood or mechanical), and, in some cases, laptop computers.
  • Food and beverages (including water bottles) should not be on the table while materials are in use.

Handling Books & Manuscripts

  • Books and paper documents are ubiquitous in today’s world, and we all tend routinely to treat them casually.  Remember that those brought to presentations are frequently very old, fragile, and/or highly valuable.  Keep this is in mind and treat them gently.  Don’t stress bindings.  Don’t place any items (e.g. laptops, note cards, elbows, etc.) on top of them.
  • Our goal is not only to make these materials available to your class for its learning experience but to preserve them indefinitely for continued, future use in this way.
  • Do not mark books or manuscripts in any way.

We request instructors to give us notice of two business days for items they wish to have pulled for class.

Usually a member of the Special Collections staff is present during classroom presentations and directs class members to stow personal belongings, asks their cooperation in handling materials in the least damaging ways, and generally supervises use.

Instructors may be permitted to present to their classes without a Special Collections staff member present, but this permission is always premised on an understanding that the instructor then becomes responsible for damage or loss that might occur during the presentation.  This could include the cost of repair and/or replacement.