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How can I access Special Collections?

PLEASE NOTE: Due to COVID-19, the reading room at Special Collections, Firestone is closed until further notice. The Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library Reading Room is now closed for renovation, though due to COVID-19, the timeline of the renovation may change. 

While our services are limited and evolving, we will do our best to assist our researchers remotely. At this time, we do not have access to the collections, and therefore we cannot complete digitization requests or answer questions that require us to reference the physical materials. We have included some resources below that may assist you in your research, and we encourage you to reach out to us with questions, concerns, or comments. We appreciate your patience. 

 Please contact Special Collections staff with questions or concerns via the Ask a Question form on our website.

Princeton University Library welcomes all researchers to its Special Collections reading rooms.

Special Collections visitors to the Firestone Library, Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Marquand Library, and East Asian Library are required to create a Special Collections Research Account prior to arrival.

Researchers will then use that account to request your materials to the reading room at Mudd, Firestone or Marquand.

You can request printed books, visual materials, and bound manuscripts via the library catalog using the "request to reading room" button on the item catalog entry. Manuscript collections can be requested via the finding aid portal using the "request this box" button on the item finding aid page. Please be sure to pay special attention to the “access and use” note of the collection finding aid page for any relevant access or photoduplication restrictions. 

Please note: Some Special Collections material is housed in our off-site shelving facility, ReCAP, and must be requested at least three business-days in advance to make certain the material will be available upon your arrival.

On the day of your first visit, you will arrive at Firestone Library and go to the Library Access Office (on the first floor, to the left of the security desk) to obtain a Reader Photo ID. You will need either a school or government-issued ID. 

Some things to know about doing research in the reading room: 

  • Secure patron lockers are provided for storage of personal property not essential to research (including coats, hats, backpacks). 
  • Researchers are welcome to bring pencils, laptops, tablets, phones (in silent mode), and digital cameras to assist in their research. No cases for these items are allowed.
  • We generally do not allow outside books, note paper or notebooks into the reading room. We will supply note paper for your use. If you have extenuating circumstances, you will need to fill out documentation to differentiate your materials from Princeton collections.
  • We offer a number of supplies that may help you in your research, including: pencils, magnifying glasses, a light box, tape measures and rulers.
  • Researchers are welcome to photograph most materials without the flash and all sounds turned off. Some collections may be subject to donor stipulations that limit or prohibit photography. Researchers are asked not to take pictures of the Reading Room itself, other patrons, or library staff. Personal photocopiers, scanners and tripods are not allowed. 
  • Patrons can order high quality reproductions of material for a fee. Reading room staff is happy to provide further guidance on the limits and cost of individual requests. 

Reading Room Hours

Helpful websites

 Please contact Special Collections staff with questions or concerns via the Ask a Question form on our website.