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Guide to Using Special Collections at Yale University: Reading Room Policies

Terms and Conditions for In-Person Use of Materials in a Special Collections Reading Room

Each special collections reading room at Yale University may have additional policies and procedures that apply locally.  These must be adhered to in addition to the following general rules:

  1. All researchers must be registered before materials may be consulted.
  2. Yale affiliates must present a currently valid Yale ID to register.
  3. Non-Yale affiliates must be 18 years of age or older, provide an email address as part of the online registration process, and present official identification required by YUL policy. See
  4. All researchers (Yale and non-Yale) must have their photograph taken upon registration. This photograph will be stored in the special collections registration database that is available only to YUL staff.  A new photograph will be taken during the yearly registration update process.
  5. Researchers are required to deposit all personal property in the designated location before entering a special collections reading room. This includes briefcases, laptop and camera cases, coats, hats, eyeglass cases, and any clothing that will not be worn while in the reading room.
  6. All materials must be requested through the online system (Aeon) or by paper call slip per the requirements of the individual reading room. Researchers are requested to supply the call number and as much bibliographic information as possible to facilitate retrieval of their requests.
  7. Researchers are responsible for maintaining their own records about items they have viewed or photographed, and may consult their use history of special collections in their Aeon account; staff cannot supply additional citation data for materials a researcher has used. Circulation records are retained permanently.
  8. All materials consulted on site must be used in the reading room. Born-digital materials may not be copied, emailed, or otherwise transferred from the reading room.
  9. If the researcher desires to take notes on paper, it will be provided. Only graphite pencils may be used for note taking.  One will be provided, if needed.
  10. Other materials may be brought into the reading room with permission and after examination by a Library staff member.  These materials will also be inspected after use in the reading room.
  11. Researchers may have one box or volume at their reading table at a time.  Up to 10 items can be requested for use at a time. Materials will be held for 5 business days, unless other arrangements are made.
  12. All items must be handled with care and should be rested on the table, or in a book cradle or on foams, at all times. All material must remain on the table, and never in the researcher’s lap, on the floor, on a chair, or other locations off the reading table.  Staff will assist and may direct researchers in the proper handling of materials.
    • Special weights are available to keep tightly bound books open. Researchers should not force open tightly bound books.
    • No marks may be added or erased. No tracings or rubbings may be made without specific permissions.
    • No books, papers, or other objects (except weights specially provided for holding books open) may be laid on or affixed to the material.
    • The arrangement of manuscript pages must not be altered. Only one folder may be removed from a box at a time and original order of the box must be maintained.
  13. Aside from the materials located on open shelves in the reading room, all materials must be paged for researchers by the special collections staff.
  14. Researchers may select any open seat in the reading room, but at the discretion of the staff, some materials must be used at specific locations.
  15. As a courtesy to other researchers, please refrain from loud conversations or dictation, and silence all electronic devices. Researchers must leave the reading room to make or receive telephone calls.
  16. All materials must be returned to the reading room attendant when the researcher leaves.  Materials will be inspected upon return by a staff member. Arrangements for future use can be made at this time, if needed.
  17. Researchers must remove all personal belongings from the department at the end of day. Any personal materials, including laptops, which were inside the reading room will be inspected by a staff member when a researcher leaves for the day. We reserve the right to search any notes or personal belongings at any time.
  18. Special exceptions may be made by the staff on a case-by-case basis and are not applicable to other researchers or future visits.
  19. No smoking, food, or drink is permitted in the reading room, including chewing gum.
  20. All special collections reading rooms on the Yale campus are ADA accessible.  However, we encourage researchers needing special accommodations to email the specific special collections library in advance of their visit to discuss their needs.
  21. Consult a staff member at any time if there are questions about the above rules.