Thursday, April 24, 2014
Special Collections

in Hornbake

10:00AM - 05:00PM

Frequently Asked Questions for Researchers and Visitors

Special collections contain both primary and secondary resource materials that have characteristics which set them apart from other types of collections in libraries. These qualities may include:

  • Rarity: books, manuscripts and other materials which are old, scarce or unique.
  • Format: photographs, slides, films, audio and video recordings, maps, artworks, artifacts and other objects that require special handling.
  • Comprehensiveness: accumulations of materials that are individually not unique, but collectively comprise an important resource because of their relevance to a particular topic or individual.

Because of these qualities, special collections are not readily replaceable, and require a higher level of security and special preservation environments to insure their survival.  Therefore, special collection materials are located in closed stacks areas, where they are retrieved by staff for researchers in our reading room.   

In contrast to museum collections assembled for visual display, special collections focus on research as their primary mission. Thus, they complement general research collections and are often located in institutions that house both kinds of collections.

Appointments are not required to visit the Maryland Room or use materials in Special Collections.  However, if you are conducting research utilizing our archival records, it is strongly encouraged that you communicate with a curator well in advance of your visit.  Archival materials take time to retrieve, and some collections may need to be screened prior to viewing.  Speaking to us in advance ensures that your visit goes smoothly and maximizes time spent with the materials.  To initiate a request, please contact us at or call us at (301) 405-9212.

Researchers are strongly encouraged to bring a photo ID when visiting the Maryland Room to view archival materials or rare books.   A Use Agreement Form must be filled out once a year by researchers requesting these types of materials.  More information about Maryland Room policies and forms can be found online.  

Special Collections materials, due to their rarity, condition, and value, do not circulate.  However, it is often possible to arrange for copies or digital surrogates of Special Collections materials.  Depending on the type of reproduction requested, there may be a fee involved. 

Digital cameras are allowed in the reading room and can be used to make personal research copies of materials.  Our full duplication policies are located online at

Digital cameras are permitted in the Maryland Room to make personal research copies of Special Collections materials.  Handheld or other personal scanners are not permitted.  Our full digital camera policy is available at

Researchers are also permitted to bring laptops into the Maryland Room, however laptop cases must remain outside the reading room.  Wireless and/or network access can be obtained by speaking with the staff member on duty; both require photo ID.

Researchers may request high resolution digital surrogates of Special Collections materials.  The standard cost is $5 per digital surrogate ($3 per digital surrogate for UMD students).  A $10 initiation fee is added to all orders initiated by mail, phone, email, and fax.  Additional fees may apply to oversize items or fragile materials.  Please note that scanning requests may be refused by Special Collection staff due to copyright or preservation issues.  

For detailed information about scanning policies and costs, please visit:

The Maryland Room is open for extended hours while classes are in session during the Fall and Spring semesters.  Extended hours are Sundays 1pm-6pm and Wednesdays 5:00 pm-8pm.  You can find up-to-date information about Maryland Room hours, including holiday closures and exceptions, online at:

Please note that some Special Collections material may not be accessible during our weekend and evening hours due to limited staffing.  Please notify Special Collections in advance so that materials may be placed on hold.  You may contact us at or call us at (301) 405-9212.

Many Special Collections materials have been digitized and are available online.  This includes manuscripts, photographs, postcards, audio-visual material, rare books, publications, and more.  To learn more about digitized Special Collections materials, visit:

If you cannot find the materials you are seeking, please contact us at or call us at (301) 405-9212 so we can assist you. 

Special Collections offers volunteer, field study, and hourly student employment opportunities for individuals interested in gaining library and archival experience.  Contact Amber Kohl, Special Collections Services Coordinator, at for more information.   

When citing archival and manuscript materials, researchers should include the following information in the citation: a copyright notice (if the copyright holder is known); acknowledgment of the photographer, if applicable; the title of the collection; and the credit line, "Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries." For example:

May Queen 1969; copyright University of Maryland; Michael Parker, photographer; Adele Stamp papers; Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

More information, such as series number, box number, and folder title may be required for footnotes and endnotes.  You can find more information about citing primary source materials from Special Collections online at

For information about citing books and other secondary sources, visit

Archival and manuscript materials from Special Collections that are used in publications should include the item, title of the collection, box number, file number and the credit line: "Special Collections, University of Maryland"

Special Collections contains a variety of collections that may have copyright or donor restrictions.  Please contact us at or call us at (301) 405-9212 for more information.

The Curators of Special Collections welcome donations related to our current holdings. For more information on how to donate to our collections, or if you are interested in providing financial support to the University of Maryland Libraries, please contact our curators online at or follow this link for more information:

If you are interested in scheduling a class visit or tour of Special Collections, please contact Laura Cleary 301-405-9988/

No, you do not have to be affiliated with the University of Maryland to use Special Collections. 

The Maryland Room is located on the first floor of Hornbake Library North. Hourly pay parking is available in the Regents Drive Garage, in the marked spaces on the bottom level.  Parking in the garage is free after 4 p.m. weekdays and on weekends, with the exception of home game days during the Football and Basketball seasons.    


For more information about visitor parking on campus, visit

For all campus parking options, visit

For a map of the campus, visit