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Reading Room Policies

Historical & Special Collections materials do not circulate and may only be consulted in the Root Room, the Historical & Special Collections Reading Room. Items will not be retrieved after 4:15 PM.

Researchers must register to gain access to materials. By signing a registration card, researchers agree to the following regulations:

1. All researchers must have a valid Historical & Special Collections registration card on file. Photo ID is required to register. In addition, researchers using the Modern Manuscript collections must also complete an "Application for the Examination of Manuscripts" form.

2. Historical & Special Collections materials do not circulate and may only be consulted in the Historical & Special Collections reading room.

3. Researchers must store loose articles of clothing, briefcases, book bags, lap top computer cases, and any other personal property not essential to their work in the lockers provided for this purpose. All books, papers, etc. are subject to examination upon leaving the Reading Room.

4. Only pencils and laptop computers may be used in the Reading Room. Scanners and tape recorders are not permitted. 

5. Cell phones, food, beverages, and chewing gum are not permitted in the Reading Room.

6.  Researchers are required to fill out a request card for each title requested.

7. When a digital copy, microform copy, or a facsimile edition of a manuscript or fragile book is available, researchers will be required to consult the copy rather than the original.

8. Unless otherwise authorized, researchers may consult only one book or one box of manuscripts at a time. A researcher requesting both book and manuscript materials must consult them separately, unless otherwise authorized.

9.  All materials consulted must be handled with great care. Staff is available to answer questions about proper handling. Researchers handling materials carelessly will be denied further access to the collections.

•  Materials must remain on the table during use. They are not to be placed in the lap or propped against the table edge.
•  No papers, books, or other objects may be laid on materials in use, except for book weights provided by the staff.
•  No marks are to be added to or erased from materials consulted.
•  No tracings or rubbings are permitted.
•  The order and arrangement of unbound materials must be preserved. Apparent irregularities should be brought to the attention of the staff.
•  Only staff members may cut unopened pages.
•  When consulting some types of material, researchers will be required to wear gloves supplied by the department.

10.   Magnifiers, an ultraviolet light, and a transilluminator are available upon request.

11. Historical & Special Collections materials may be held on reserve upon request.

12. Researchers are held responsible for all materials charged to them. Materials may not be transferred from one researcher to another.

13.  Requests for photocopies, digital images, microfilms, and photographs are considered by the staff on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with the department's reproduction policies.  Please see Reproduction & Publication for more information.

© 2014 The President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved.