Special Collections materials do not circulate and may only be consulted in the Special Collections reading room. Items will not be retrieved from secure storage after 4:30 p.m. as the regular hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Appointments are encouraged to allow State Library staff to prepare materials in advance for researchers.

There may be restrictions on the use of selected collection materials at the discretion of State Library staff. The fragile condition and irreplaceable nature of many items may make it necessary for the State Library to limit access to collections and individually consider each request for use. 

All researchers are asked to complete a registration form and present identification with a recent photograph and a current address to gain access to materials. By signing a registration form, researchers agree to the following rules:

1. 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 wardrobe provided for this purpose. Personal property that does not fit in the closet is not permitted in the reading room. All books, papers, etc. are subject to examination upon leaving the reading room.

2. Only pencils, paper, and laptop computers may be used in the reading room. Photography (without flash) is allowed upon State Library staff approval.

3. Cell phone conversations, food, beverages, and tobacco are not permitted in the reading room.

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

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

6. Unless otherwise authorized, researchers may consult only one book or one box of manuscripts at a time.

7. All materials consulted must be handled with great care. 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.
  • Book cradles must be used when consulting bound volumes.
  • 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 may be done without permission.
  • The order and arrangement of unbound materials must be preserved. Apparent irregularities should be brought to the attention of the staff.
  • When consulting some types of material, especially photographs, researchers will be required to wear gloves supplied by Special Collections staff.

All items from secure storage must be returned to the information desk by 4:45 p.m.

Requests for photocopies, digital images, and other reproductions are considered by State Library staff on a case-by-case basis. Payment for services must be received before reproductions will be made. All photocopies are performed by library staff.

Use of public computer:  Patrons in the Special Collections Department shall be allotted a maximum time limit of one hour per day. Total public computer use, including time on computers in the main library, will not exceed two hours per patron per day. No extra time will be granted.


This information is provided by The State Library of Massachusetts.