Reading Room Policies

Materials in Special Collections & University Archives are available for the research needs of students, faculty, and staff of the University, and available to the general public. All materials are housed in a controlled environment and, generally, can be used only in the Special Collections Department Reading Room. We welcome requests from instructors to meet with classes or to help formulate assignments that include use of rare books and manuscripts. These may be most efficiently submitted on our reference query form or by calling 335-5921 during our service hours.

Researchers may be required to present proper identification and must abide by Department policies and procedures.

  • Researchers may obtain materials by presenting a completed call slip to the receptionist. Registration forms must be completed for the use of manuscript materials.
  • Personal belongings, such as coats, handbags, briefcases, and backpacks, are not allowed in the Reading Room and should be placed in the lockers provided.
  • Only pencils, notepaper and essential reference books are permitted at the research tables. Personal computers, cameras, and recording devices may be used with permission.
  • A digital camera and two flat-bed scanners are freely available in the Reading Room for use by readers. Readers may also use their personal digital cameras to photograph material they are working with. Photocopies, scans and reproductions of other media may also be requested on-site using our Access & Reproductions form.
  • No marks may be added to or erased from materials belonging to the Department, and extreme care should be exercised when handling these items. Do not fold, lean on, place an arm or notepad across them, or otherwise handle materials in any way that may damage them. Specially made cradles are available from staff at the reception desk.
  • Eating and drinking are NOT permitted in the Reading Room.
  • Theft or mutilation of materials is forbidden by law and is punishable by fine or imprisonment or both. Theft and multilation will be prosecuted.
  • All materials must be returned to the receptionist or placed on designated shelves before leaving the reading room and Department.
  • If you have questions, do not hesitate to ask any staff member. The staff is committed to making your visits and the visits of future researchers rewarding.

When using manuscript collections, please note in addition:

  • Readers may request more than one box or volume of material at a time, but use may be restricted to one unit at a time. Please remove only one folder at a time from boxes.  Please do not remove items from folders.
  • Please maintain the exact order and arrangement of documents in a folder. If you discover a filing error, call it to the attention of a staff member. Do not rearrange items yourself.
  • With permission, selected materials can be photocopied, scanned, or photographed, and orders for other reproductions placed: consult a staff member regarding procedures before removing any item from a file or box. Specific restrictions may have been placed on some collections, and items that are fragile or could be damaged by copying may be withheld. We ordinarily cannot reproduce entire collections or large portions of them.
  • Readers must cite materials they use in publications. Please include the full name of the collection and of the Libraries, for example: Redpath Chautauqua Collection, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa; or President’s Correspondence, The University of Iowa Archives, Iowa City, Iowa.
  • We reserve the right to charge use fees for our permission, as property owners, to publish. Quoting material in a research paper or thesis generally does not consitute publication; posting material to a web site open to the general public, however, may be regarded by copyright holders as a form of publication.