Using Special Collections Materials

This guide explains how users wishing to use special collections materials (archives and manuscript collections, photographs, Regional Architecture Collections plans and drawings, historical magazines, maps, AUC University Archives records and other holdings) can direct their research efforts.

Contact with Librarians and Research Appointments

Before contacting the library please check what kind of resources may be available by consulting the RBSCL collection strengths and curatorial areas webpages, and the research tools and digital content links on the homepage.

To discuss your research needs (and to make an appointment if you anticipate making an on-site visit), contact the library’s Research Services Desk at or at 2-02-2615-3676, or a librarian in one of the RBSCL’s curatorial units or a relevant subject specialist, as listed on the RBSCL Contact Us page. Make an appointment to use special collections materials as far in advance as possible before your visit. This will give librarians time to prepare materials for your visit or otherwise assist you with your research request. 

Upon making your visit, follow the instructions received for meeting with the librarian with whom you made an appointment, or go to the RBSCL Research Services Desk and ask to be directed to the appropriate library location to meet with them.  If you have not made an appointment, RBSCL Research Services Desk staff will put you in touch with the appropriate librarian and guide you to the proper library location.

Users wishing to use special collections materials must complete an "Archival Materials/Special Collections User Request Form” provided by the librarian assisting them.


Guidelines for Protecting Special Collections Materials

Special Collections and Archival Materials do not circulate and may not be taken from the RBSCL.

Special Collections and Archival Materials must be used in one of the designated monitored locations approved by library staff.

Laptop computers and pencils may be used for taking notes (pencils can be borrowed from the Research Services desk); the use of pens is not permitted.

Food and drink are not permitted around special collections and archival materials.

Library staff members may require and provide cotton gloves for handling certain special collections and archival materials, like photographs.

Handle special collections and archival materials with care: do not rearrange, write on them, fold or tear or lean on items; turn pages carefully.


Restrictions on Access to Special Collections Materials

Archives and other special collections are generally open for use but may be subject to restrictions: unprocessed collections or fragile material may not be available for use, at the discretion of staff, and donor restrictions may apply.

The following restrictions apply to AUC University Archives records and publications:

▪ Records of AUC offices, departments, and other units are closed to researchers for 15 years from the date they were created.
▪ Records of AUC’s Board of Trustees, such as meeting minutes, are closed for 25 years from the date of creation.
▪ Personnel Records (such as a personnel file) are closed for research for 50 years after the employee’s departure from AUC.
▪ Student Records are primarily in custody of AUC’s Office of the Registrar, but for other student records University Archives and AUC Records Management staff act in accordance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974/1976 (FERPA), limiting access to the education records of living students or living former students to that student (upon written request), with restrictions lifted 75 years after their departure from the university.
▪ AUC publications, photographs, oral histories, websites, and reference materials are all open for use.

Reproductions, Copyright, and Publishing

Reproductions (digital scans, photographs or photocopies) may be made from special collections and archival materials if, in the judgment of library staff, doing so will not harm the item. A reproductions form must be completed and approved by a library staff member, who will direct the user to RBSCL Reprographics facilities. See Reproductions and Digitization for details.

To use personal cameras, mobile phone cameras, or personal scanners, please consult with the Research Services Desk staff or the unit staff or subject specialist you are working with. There may be a cost for making digital images with your personal equipment.

Users intending to publish in print or online, reproduce for an audio-visual production or quote from library materials must complete an "Application for Permission to Publish, Broadcast, or Quote from Rare Books and Special Collections Library Materials" form, as well as seek copyright permission if the library does not hold the copyright.  Permission must be requested for physical items as well as images in the Rare Books and Special Collections Digital Library or other RBSCL online sources.  

Take note of information like collection names, box numbers and folder titles while you are doing your research to facilitate locating needed items at some later time, and for citing the materials you used.

For guidelines on citation format and crediting the library when basing research on or publishing images of materials from the Rare Books and Special Collections Library, see Crediting and Citing Rare Books and Special Collections Library Materials.

When a publication or other production based on RBSCL materials is completed and available, users are requested to notify library staff and donate a copy of the work to the library.