Using Special Collections

Special Collections is open to all for research and instruction. Special Collections materials do not circulate and are only accessible on site in the Fine & Rare Book Rooms (Hunt Library, 4th floor). All researchers must make an appointment and request materials at least two business days in advance of each visit. 


Using Special Collections Materials

  1. Researchers are required to leave personal possessions at the front desk on arrival, with the exception of cameras, smartphones, and laptops. Pencils and note paper will be provided. A coat rack is available. Other research materials required by the researcher must be reviewed and approved by the Curator at the beginning of each research appointment. 
  2. Researchers must complete and sign a registration form on arrival; registration requires a government- or university-issued ID.
  3. Researchers must present any item they carry out of the Fine & Rare Book Rooms for inspection before leaving. Laptops must be opened and removed from cases for inspection. No Special Collections materials are permitted to leave the Fine & Rare Book Rooms. 
  4. Materials must be handled with clean hands and with care. All materials must be left on the table at all times using the supports and weights provided.
  5. No pens, food or drink (including water and chewing gum) are permitted in the Fine & Rare Book Rooms. 
  6. Some materials (scientific instruments, artifacts, and some bindings) must be handled with gloves; gloves will be provided when needed. 
  7. Research supplies and tools, including magnifying lenses, rules, tape measures, flashlights and lamps are available on request. 


Requesting Materials


  1. Special Collections materials must be requested via email. Requests are limited to five items per visit. 
  2. Researchers can search for Special Collections materials using the CMU Libraries’ online catalog, Primo. Send the title, author, and call number to Special Collections' email with a proposed list of dates and times for a research appointment.
  3. Requests must be submitted at least two business days in advance of the research appointment. 
  4. Appointments will be scheduled based on the availability of the requested materials and conflicts with existing research appointments.


Reproducing Materials


  1. The Libraries’ Digitization Services team can scan most Special Collections materials on request. Email Special Collections for pricing and instructions on how to order digital reproductions. Available formats include .TIFF, .JPG, and .PDF.    
  2. Researchers may take photos of Special Collections materials for research purposes only, and not for publication. No flash photography or camera supports are permitted in the Fine & Rare Book Rooms.


Publication & Citations

  1. Published and unpublished citations for Special Collections materials must include the following information and attribution:
    1. The author, title, and date of the item
    2. The call number or collection reference
    3. “Special Collections, Carnegie Mellon University Libraries”