Skip to Main Content

Guide to Using Special Collections at Yale University: Register

Why do I need to register?

Because special collections materials are rare, unique, and usually irreplaceable, they are subject to a higher level of security than other library materials. Special collections materials can only be used in a secure reading room under the supervision of repository staff, and cannot be checked out. Accordingly, researchers must register to be a special collections user, and check in and out each time they visit a special collections reading room. Registering as a special collections user also allows you to conveniently request materials online before your visit.

What do I need to do to register?

All researchers using collection material in the secure environment of one of Yale University's special collections reading rooms must agree to the terms, conditions, and guidelines specified in the Yale University Library User Agreement for Special Collections as a condition for access to Yale's special collections. The agreement language, supplied for consultation in a separate box in the right-hand column, is an integral part of the special collections registration process.  Researchers with a valid Yale NetID can use Yale’s Central Authentication Service (CAS) to register online and create a special collections account. All other researchers must provide a valid email address in order to complete this registration/account-creation process. Without exception, researchers must complete the online registration process before any access to special collections materials will be provided.

In addition to assenting to the user agreement, the following are required the first time you come in person to a Yale University Library special collections reading room in order to complete the registration process to access collection material:


Supply one of the following:

  • A currently valid Yale photograph ID
  • A government-issued id bearing your name, your photograph, and an expiration date indicating current validity (examples: driver's license, passport, U.S. state-issued identity card, military ids, green cards)

If you have a question about the requirement, please contact the repository you are visiting.


  • Have a current photograph of yourself taken by special collections staff for inclusion in the internal patron database used to confirm the identify of patrons using special collections.

Once your registration is completed you can be signed into any Yale University Library special collections reading room without presenting an ID each time. 

Your special collections account information will need to be updated and your current photograph re-taken annually.

Register Online

Click here to register online as a user at any of the following repositories.

  • Haas Arts Library Special Collections
  • Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
  • Divinity Special Collections
  • Lewis Walpole Library
  • Manuscripts and Archives
  • Medical Historical Library
  • Gilmore Music Library Special Collections
  • Yale Center for British Art

Yale University User Agreement for Special Collections


This registration is valid for access to the special collections materials and reading rooms of the Yale Center for British Art and the Yale University Library, hereafter referred to as “the special collections”.

After reading this information, press the "Yes" button below. By pressing the button, you acknowledge and agree to all of the terms and conditions in the document.


For non-Yale researchers visiting in person:

All researchers must comply with the Yale Covid Visitors Policy.  Please contact the reading room you are visiting if you have any questions or concerns about your visit.   


For all researchers:


The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of all reproductions of copyrighted material, regardless of who makes the reproductions. Libraries and archives are authorized to provide a photocopy or reproduction for private study, scholarship, or research. For collection materials that are not in the public domain in the United States, researchers may not modify, publish, transmit, participate in the transfer or sale of, reproduce except for teaching and scholarship, create new works from, distribute, publicly perform or display, or in any way exploit any of the content in whole or in part without the permission of the copyright holder. Researchers making use of any copies in excess of the "fair use" exception may be liable for copyright infringement.

In granting permission to examine holdings or providing reproductions for personal use, Yale University is not authorizing publication. The researcher is solely responsible for investigating the holder of the copyright (if any) and obtaining permission from the copyright holder for publication of copyrighted material. The researcher indemnifies and holds Yale University harmless for any infringement of intellectual property rights held by others. In all cases, the researcher must cite the appropriate special collection as the source.

Except in a few special circumstances, Yale University does not own the copyright to most of the materials in its special collections and can only grant permission to publish those holdings for which Yale University is unambiguously the copyright holder. For more information consult individual special collections repositories.


Non-Disclosure Agreement

Social Security Numbers: Holdings may contain Social Security numbers. The researcher agrees not to record, reproduce, or disclose any Social Security numbers that may be included in requested materials.

Privacy and Publicity Rights: Privacy and publicity rights reflect separate and distinct interests from copyright interests. Neither privacy nor publicity rights are the subject of federal law. While fair use is a defense to copyright infringement, fair use is not a defense to claims of violation of privacy or publicity rights. Privacy and publicity rights are the subject of state laws. What may be permitted in one state may not be permitted in another. Note also that related causes of action may be pursued under the federal Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125 (a), for example, for unauthorized uses of a person's identity in order to create a false endorsement. While an individual's right to privacy generally ends when the individual dies, publicity rights associated with the commercial value connected with an individual's name, image or voice may continue. * Researchers bear the responsibility of making individualized determinations as to whether privacy and publicity rights are implicated by the nature of the materials and how they use such materials.

*For additional information on Privacy and Publicity rights see the Library of Congress website.

For researchers visiting in person:

Reading Room Regulations

Researchers visiting a reading room in person must comply with the policies of each repository and any additional guidance given by staff.

Yale University Library:

Haas Arts Library Special Collections

Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Divinity Special Collections

Lewis Walpole Library

Manuscripts & Archives

Medical Historical Library

Gilmore Music Library Special Collections

Yale Center for British Art:



Researchers are permitted to use their personal devices to take images for their private study and agree to adhere to the photography policies of each repository and any additional guidance given by staff. Please review our photography policies at:



For protection of the materials, security devices, such as CCTV, still cameras, and alarms, are in use in special collections reading rooms at Yale University. Video records are maintained as long as is necessary. Yale University special collections are routinely patrolled by Yale University security personnel. You may be asked to provide identification at any time. We reserve the right to search any notes or personal belongings at any time.