Using the Collections

Open for research Spring 2022

Access to the Collections The Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation is open for in-person research Monday –Friday from 9:00am-5:00pm. 

For questions about the department, including reproductions, email If you have questions about a specific collection or research topic, your email will be forwarded to the appropriate curator. 

We do not require a letter of support from a university or institute to use our collections.

Getting Started RBSCP has over 400 manuscript collections that are described in online finding aids. Each entry gives basic descriptive information about the subject and material in the collection, the size of the collection, and its provenance (how it came to RBSCP). Finding aids contain a short descriptiopn about the collection and, in some cases, a box-by-box or folder-by-folder listing of its contents. RBSCP has many manuscript materials--if you can't find what you are looking for, ask us! Additional information about the manuscript collections may be found online in the Subject Guide to the Collections. Printed material -- books, maps, newspapers, journals -- in RBSCP is represented by author, title, and subject entries in the library's catalog (Voyager). RBSCP 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. RBSCP 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 email the University Archives.   

What to Expect During a Visit:

Reading Room Policies & Procedures:

  • All users must register on their first visit of the academic year (September) and provide a current UR ID or valid government-issued photo ID (i.e. driver’s license). 
  • All coats, hats, laptop cases/bags, briefcases, backpacks, purses, notebooks, folders, etc. are not allowed in the reading room, and must be checked upon entrance to the library. Lockers are provided for all personal items.
  • No food, drink, or gum is allowed in the Reading Room.
  • Pencils only may be used for note-taking and are available at the front desk.  Pens, highlighters, markers, or post-it notes are not permitted.
  • Laptops and handheld devices are permitted for note-taking.  Loose paper is provided, if needed.
  • The use of a digital camera without flash is permitted with approval from library staff. Permission may be denied due to donor restrictions. Images are taken for personal research purposes only. To publish reproductions from our collections, please contact us. 
  • Theft, destruction or mutilation of the materials is a crime.
  • Please maintain the original order of unbound material. Materials do not circulate.
  • Please turn off cell phones, pagers, and similar electronic devices.  Please be quiet/ considerate of other researchers.
  • Users will be shown how to handle materials, as this varies depending on medium and condition of materials.
  • The number of materials (files, boxes, or books) given at any time to registered users is at the discretion of library staff and will vary depending on the collection or book. Staff reviews materials before and after use.
  • 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.  

Reproductions & Permissions

Publication Permissions 
Except in a few circumstances, RBSCP does not hold the copyright to materials in its care and, therefore, cannot grant or deny permission to use them. Accordingly, you are solely responsible for determining the copyright status of any materials you may wish to use, to investigate the owner of the copyright, and to obtain permission for your intended use. In all cases you must cite Rare Books, Special Collections & Preservation as the source with the appropriate credit line, and, if a particular material is copyrighted, you must cite all copyright information and comply with all other terms or restrictions that may be applicable to that material.   

Digitization Services 
RBSCP provides digital reproductions of material from its holdings for research and publication purposes.  RBSCP reserves the right to restrict reproductions because of physical, contractual, or copyright restrictions. Researchers must complete a Reproduction Order Form, noting as much information about the item as possible (collection/book name, box/file number and/or call number. Digital reproductions will be emailed to the researcher.  Manipulation of digitized items is not allowed. 

Page limit: Page limits are 300 pages per person per semester. 

Fees: There is no charge (free).  

Time: After receiving the completed request form, orders can take up to 8-10 weeks to complete.