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Reading Room Guidelines

At this time, due to COVID, only members of the Princeton community with access to campus buildings and non-Princeton researchers with an appointment are able to visit the Special Collections reading rooms in person. While masks are optional in public spaces in buildings on Princeton’s campus, including the library, we continue to require masks in Special Collections Reading Rooms. We ask that researchers abide by the following guidelines intended to ensure the safety and longevity of collection materials for future use. Researchers are more than welcome to request further clarification or guidance from staff on any of the guidelines.

  1. Register first: Visitors will need to register for a Special Collections Research Account before accessing collection material. Independent researchers (Princeton alumni and non-Princeton affiliated visitors) should obtain a Special Collections Researcher ID card from the Access Office located in the main lobby of Firestone Library prior to visiting any reading room. Please create your Special Collections Research Account in advance and bring a photo ID with you.

  1. What to bring: Researchers are welcome to bring pencils, laptops, tablets, phones, and cameras to assist them in their research. Please silence all digital devices and leave cases in your locker. We offer a number of supplies that may help you in your research including pencils, note paper, magnifying glasses, a light box, tape measures, and rulers. If you need to bring a book in with you, please check in with a staff member upon your arrival.

  1. Use a locker: Personal belongings that are non-essential to research should be stored in one of our free, on-site lockers. Belongings include coats, hats, bags, pens, notebook paper, laptop cases, and the like.

  1. Care and handling: Use one box at a time, and one folder at a time. Keep materials in their original order and flat on the table. Use two hands to handle all folders, manuscripts, photographs, prints, objects and brittle paper. Support materials by resting manuscripts directly on the table or by using foam wedges for bound materials. Open books and other objects only as far as they will open without force. Approved weights are available to keep materials open or flat. If you believe materials are out of order, please ask for assistance from staff. Staff will assist in providing supports for materials when needed.

  1. Clean, dry, gloveless hands are best: Please only use nitrile gloves when handling photographs, glass plates, slides and metal objects, otherwise, gloves are not necessary. Please keep photographs in their mylar coverings, and use gloves if photographs are not in mylar coverings.

  1. Do no harm: Avoid marking, leaning on, altering, folding, tracing, or defacing materials.

  1. Photos and digitization: Researchers are welcome to take photographs, or request digitization of most materials, please see the Digital Camera Usage page and the Digitization & Publication Services page for more information.

  2. Checking out: When finished with your materials, please leave them at your station and alert staff. Prior to leaving, we will ask to check the personal belongings that were inside of the reading room for collection content.