Using the Collections


Access to the Collections All researchers should contact us by email or telephone (585-275-4477) 48 hours before visiting, as some collections are not available for use without an appointment. In addition, all patrons wishing to use the collections on Saturdays during the academic year must contact us by email or telephone Monday-Thursday during 9am-5pm business hours before visiting, so that we may be adequately prepared to meet your needs. The collections of the Department are available for use by students, staff, the University community, and the general public. Before using the collections, all patrons will be asked to fill out a registration form and provide a photo identification. Registration forms are kept on file and must be updated each academic year. Like most other special collections departments, our stacks are not available for browsing. We ask that patrons collaborate with a Librarian to prepare for their visit. Upon arrival, she/he will assist the patrons, and requested materials will be brought to researchers in the Cominsky Reading Room.

Getting Started The Department's over 400 manuscript collections are described in on-line Finding Aids. Each entry gives basic descriptive information about the subject and material in the collection, the size of the collection, and its provenance. The Finding Aid contains a short essay about the collection and a box-by-box or folder-by-folder listing of its contents. The Department has over 2 miles of manuscript materials--if you can't find what you are looking for, ask us! Additional information about the manuscript collections may be found on-line in the Subject Guide to the Collections. Printed material -- books, maps, newspapers, journals -- in the Department is represented by author, title, and subject entries in the Voyager Catalog, the University of Rochester's on-line catalogue. The Department also has a very strong collection of local history (Rochester and Western New York) materials, both printed and manuscript. A good starting point for researching local history is may be found here: Basic Sources for Rochester History.The Department is also the home of the University of Rochester Archives. To get a start in researching the University, read Sources Relating to the University of Rochester, or contact the University Archivist,  Melissa S. Mead.   

What to Expect During a Visit  Material from the Collections does not circulate and must be used in the Cominsky Reading Room. Requests for material are accepted until a half hour before closing and all material must be returned to the desk fifteen minutes prior to closing.  

  1. Researchers must register on their first visit using our Reader Registration form and present identification with a recent photograph and current address (e.g. driver's license, passport, student/employee ID).
  2. Researchers who wish to use printed material must fill out and sign a book form.
  3. Bookbags, backpacks, purses, coats, umbrellas, food and drink are prohibited in the Reading Room.
  4. Laptop computers may be used in the Reading Room; personal photocopiers and scanners are not allowed.
  5. Digital cameras may be used by registered researchers in the Reading Room after consulting with the staff and after reading and signing our Policy for Using Digital Cameras in the Reading Room. All restrictions regarding reproduction and publication described below apply to digital photographs. Use fees will still apply for those requesting publication permission.
  6. Special Collections material must be handled with great care. USE PENCIL ONLY. Do not make any marks on the materials, and do not open unopened pages. No books, papers, or other objects (except the special weights available to hold books open) may be laid on the materials.
  7. When using manuscript material, do not disturb the arrangement of papers or folders.
  8. Users of the collections are expected to abide by all copyright regulations.
  9. When Readers have finished using material, they must return it to the service desk and wait until the material has been checked in. Researchers wishing to use the same materials within two weeks may ask to have them placed on hold.


Reproduction and Publication Permission to further reproduce or publish material in any format -- print, electronic, microform, film, photographic, etc. -- must also be obtained from the University of Rochester Library as owners of the property rights. These restrictions also apply to researcher's digital photography.   

Duplication Services The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections permits a reasonable amount of copying of materials from its holdings, but reserves the right to restrict copying because of physical, contractual, or copyright restrictions. All copying is done by library staff. Copies are for reference use only and may not be transferred to any other person or institution, or further duplicated in any format, without specific permission of the Department. Researchers must complete a Duplication Order Form, noting the item, location in the collection and requested format. Completed reproductions will be emailed to the researcher.

Copy Fees: limit for any one person is 100 pages per academic year. A $5.00 service fee is charged for orders over 50 pages. There is a $10.00 processing fee for all orders. In-person requests are 15¢ per page. All orders initiated by phone, letter or e-mail are 25¢ per page.

Photographs: The service fee for each order is $25.00. If there is an existing negative, the service fee per order is $15.00. These service charges are in addition to the cost of prints as charged by Photo Illustration ($8.50 per negative, plus $6.00 for a 5”x7” black and white print; $8.50 for an 8”x10”, etc.).Depending on the rights requested, the minimum use fee for photographs published by a commercial press begins is $50.00 for each photograph; the use fee for photographs published by university or scholarly presses and non-profit institutions for commercial or fund-raising purposes is $25.00 for each photograph. Please inquire about the specifics regarding rights, and use fees for other media (Broadcast, On-line, etc.).There is no use fee for publication of photographs by non-profit institutions for educational purposes or for an exhibition catalogue containing material from the University of Rochester Library.Researchers must request permission to reproduce all digital images and use fees will apply.All photographs and negatives remain the property of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, University of Rochester Library.

Architectural Drawings Photocopies of architectural drawings that can be photocopied without damage are $1.00 per page. For orders mailed and billed there is an additional mailing and handling fee of $10.00. The fee for using architectural drawings for commercial purposes (by architects doing restoration work, publication, etc.) is $50.00 per item. 

RBSCP Digital Image Scanning Where appropriate, items may be scanned and provided in digital formats. The service fee for a scanning session (up to10 images) is $25.00, plus the cost of storage medium (i.e. CD-ROM). The fee per image (8.5" x 11" or smaller) scanned is $10.00. The fee per image (up to 11" x 17") scanned is $20.00. There is a $10.00 fee for delivery of files whether by mail, on a storage medium, or electronically.Scans requested for research will be provided at no more than 72dpi, jpeg format at 100% of the original. Should the image later be requested for publication purposes, no additional fee for supplying a higher-resolution file will be required.The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections must approve any manipulation of images. All scans must be appropriately credited to the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, University of Rochester Libraries.The use fees for scanned images are the same as that specified above for photographs.

All scans remain the property of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, University of Rochester Library.