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. To provide the public with access to its unique and treasured collections, the State Library continually mounts exhibits of such items outside of State House Room 341, which is open to public viewing during the regular operating hours of the State House.

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 regulations:

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. 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, however, there is no wireless internet access available. Photography is allowed upon State Library staff approval.

3. Cell phones, food, beverages, chewing gum, 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 photographs, researchers will be required to wear gloves supplied by the department.
  • When consulting some types of material, researchers will be required to wear gloves supplied by Special Collections staff.
  • All materials must be returned to Special Collections staff 15 minutes before closing.

8. 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.

This information is provided by The State Library of Massachusetts.