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How to Use Special Collections

An introduction to using Special Collections holdings at HSLIC.

Special Collections Guidelines

  • All materials are non-circulating and must be used in the Library under staff supervision.
  • No food or drinks are allowed in Special Collections. 
  • All personal items brought into Special Collections must be stored on a book cart or at the end of a table.
  • Special Collections will provide pencils and note paper to take notes; no pens, markers, highlighters, post-its, etc. are allowed. 
  • Laptops, tablets, digital cameras, and cell phones are allowed, but cases must be stored with other personal items.
  • If multiple researchers are present, each researcher must keep his/her/their phone on silent and noise to a minimum.
  • Researchers are highly discouraged from taking any personal copies/notes on paper into Special Collections. Any such materials will need to be reviewed by staff at the end of the appointment.
  • Researchers are responsible for documenting where any images, quotes, documents, etc. are from (i.e. collection name and number as well as box and folder numbers).

Handling Materials

Handling materials correctly will help extend the life of the materials and ensure continued access. Materials may be fragile; please use caution when reviewing rare books and archival collections.

  • Keep all archival collections (boxes, folders, pages) in their existing order. 
  • Always handle materials with clean dry hands; staff will supply nitrile gloves for photographic prints and negatives not in protective sleeves.
  • Use book cradles or other supports if needed; do not spread books out with the spine up or flatten them. 
  • Do not mark, fold, alter, or write on top of archival materials; do not put anything on top of archival materials.
  • Use paper flags to identify any materials you want copied.
  • Use only one box at a time. Place the box on the table and carefully remove one folder at a time.
  • Lay the folder flat on the reading room table and turn the pages gently as you would a book; be sure to keep all pages in order. 
  • Keep all items on the table while being used. 
  • Notify staff if you suspect any errors. Do you attempt to address errors on your own. 
  • Non-flash digital photography is allowed provided that materials are not restricted. 
  • Do not use pencils to hold your place in a book. Instead, use one of our acid-free paper flags. 

Copying Guidelines

  • Due to limited Special Collections staff, up to 50 copies may be scanned/photocopied for researchers. 
  • Copying may be restricted due to the size and/or condition of the materials as well as copyright regulations.
  • Special Collections can provide an overhead scanner if needed - please let the archivist know before your appointment.
  • The researcher is responsible for all copyright and literary property rights compliance as well as conformance with libel laws and individuals' rights to privacy. 
  • A permission to publish form is required for using our materials in any published works including exhibits, social media, and websites (i.e. beyond fair-use). 


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Abbie Olivas