Materials in Special Collections & 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 via our class request form. For all other inquiries use our reference query form or call 319-335-5921 during our service hours.

Before accessing the Reading Room and using Special Collections materials, all users must create a patron account.

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

  • Place coats, handbags, briefcases, backpacks, computer bags, envelopes, notebooks, paper etc.; in the lockers or on coat racks provided. Only pencils, laptop computers, cellphones, and essential reference books are permitted at the research tables.
  • Pencils and laptop computers may be used for taking notes. Outside notebooks or loose-leaf paper is not permitted in the reading room. Special paper will be provided for patrons to take notes.
  • Readers may also use their personal digital cameras with the flash turned off to photograph material they are working with. Consult staff before using cameras, iPads, and recording devices. Photocopies, scans and reproductions of other media may also be requested on-site using your Aeon account. Outside scanning equipment is not permitted in the Reading Room.
  • 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 required for use of monograph materials.
  • Eating and drinking are NOT permitted in the Reading Room.
  • Patrons must sit at designated tables in the Reading Room. Staff reserve the right to ask a patron to move based on the materials they are using.
  • Theft or mutilation of materials is forbidden by law and is punishable by fine or imprisonment or both. Theft and mutilation will be prosecuted.
  • Consult with the staff member at the desk to return the materials or arrange to leave them on the desk before leaving the Reading Room for any length of time.
  • The Special Collections Department is unable to extend regular hours to accommodate visiting researchers. If you are in need of hiring researchers to complete unfinished work, please contact the Department’s reference account for assistance.
  • In rare circumstances, the Department may need to close the Reading Room early to accommodate special events. Staff will strive to make patrons aware of any irregular closings as soon as possible.
  • 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 up to 6 items 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.
  • Please do not remove staples from documents.
  • With permission, selected materials can be 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.
  • Quoting material in a research paper or thesis generally does not constitute publication; posting material to a web site open to the general public, however, may be regarded by copyright holders as a form of publication.

Reviewed March 2023