Today: Special Collections in Hornbake 10:00AM - 05:00PM

Frequently Asked Questions

For more information about Maryland Room policies, consult the guide Using Special Collections and University Archives.

About Special Collections

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.

Special collection materials are located in closed stacks, where they are retrieved by staff for researchers in the Maryland Room, the reading room for Special Collections and University Archives. Learn more about us.

Yes! Students are welcome to study in the Maryland Room.

Please note that students studying in the Maryland Room are required to follow the reading room guidelines. Food, drinks and pens/highlighters are not permitted inside the reading room. All coats/bags must be placed in a locker (at no cost).

There are also great study spaces located on the ground floor, second floor, and third floor in Hornbake Library North. The second floor is the designated QUIET study space.

The curators of Special Collections and University Archives welcome donations related to our current holdings. Learn more about donating to our collections or providing financial support to Special Collections and University Archives.

Special Collections and University Archives offer volunteer, field study, and hourly student employment opportunities for individuals interested in gaining library and archival experience.

Jobs and Graduate Assistant positions at the Libraries posted online at

To apply for hourly student assistant positions across all the Libraries visit or contact Amber Kohl at to inquire about open hourly student assistant positions in Special Collections and University Archives.

Scheduling a class visit or tour of Special Collections and University Archives online. Read more about the types of instruction and tour opportunities we typically offer to visitors.

Using Our Collections

Our collections are open to all users. You do not have to be affiliated with the University of Maryland to view our collections.

Use our Getting Started page to learn how to search and request materials from archival and book collections.

Appointments are not required. However, if you are conducting research utilizing our archival records, it is strongly encouraged that you contact us in advance of your visit. Archival material take time to retrieve, especially material shelved offsite and material that requires screening prior to viewing. Speaking to us in advance ensures that your visit goes smoothly and maximizes time spent with the materials.

All patrons using Special Collections and University Archives materials in the Maryland Room, the reading room for Special Collections and University Archives, must register for a Special Collections Account. You may register online or upon arrival in the reading room. Researchers must present valid government or university photo identification.

All researchers using materials from Special Collections and University Archives must register for a Special Collections Account. This account allows researchers to manage their research online. With your account, you will be able to:

  • Request materials online 
  • Schedule your visit so materials are available when you arrive
  • Submit duplication orders and download digital scans
  • View and track the status of requests and orders
  • Review your request history

This account allows you to request materials from all Special Collections on campus, including the Special Collections and University Archives and the Special Collections in Performing Arts.

Due to their rarity, condition, and value, Special Collections and University Archives materials do not circulate.

Digital cameras are allowed in the reading room and can be used to make personal research copies of materials. Overhead scanners are available for copying books from the collections, depending on their age and condition.

Read more about our Duplication Policies.

Yes, you may request digital copies of materials from our collections using your Special Collections Account. Read more about our Duplication Policies.

More information about requesting copies is available on the Getting Started page.

Many Special Collections and University Archives materials have been digitized and are available online through Digital Collections and the Internet Archive. This includes manuscripts, photographs, postcards, audio-visual material, rare books, publications, and more.

You can also find digital material in our online exhibits.

Some of our material has moved to Severn Library, a high-density offsite storage facility. Requests for these items should be placed several business days prior to your visit to ensure the materials will be available in the reading room.

Read more about how to request material from Severn Library.

Special Collections and University Archives do not hold copyright over the majority of its collections, and contains a variety of collections that have copyright and/or donor restrictions.

You are responsible for determining whether you need to seek permission to publish materials from these collections, and for securing that permission from the copyright holder.

We request that citations from Special Collections and University Archives materials contain the credit line:

Special Collections and University Archives, University of Maryland Libraries

In addition, it is useful to add enough identifying information so that a subsequent researcher may locate materials based on the citation. For example:

Letter to John M. Steffey, November 12, 1963. Spiro T. Agnew Papers, Series I, Subseries 1, Box 1, "Personal Correspondence" folder, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Maryland Libraries.

More information about citing primary source materials from Special Collections and University Archives.

More information about citing books and other secondary sources.

"Born-digital" refers to material whose entire lifecycle has been digital, from the time and place it was created to the point of access. This includes born-digital documents, photographs, publications, audiovisual material, among many other formats. Like other holdings, born-digital archives document subjects like the University of Maryland, history and culture in the State of Maryland, labor and workplace studies, mass media and culture, and literary history, bringing these historical collections into the present through contemporary formats.

Some born-digital content can be found in the Archival Collections, often marked with a note: "This collection contains born-digital material that has been transferred from its original storage medium. Some files may be unreadable with current technology." Please contact us to make arrangements to view the electronic files. Special formats of born-digital material include archived websites. Browse and search our public web archives.

Visiting Us

The Maryland Room, reading room for Special Collections and University Archives, is located on the first floor of Hornbake Library North.

Learn more about visiting Hornbake Library, including directional parking, mass transit and accommodation information.

The Maryland Room is open from 10am-5pm Monday to Friday. We are open for extended hours during the Fall and Spring semesters; Sundays 1-6pm and Wednesdays 5-8pm. Please review our current hours for exceptions to the regular schedule before your visit.

Some material may not be accessible during our weekend and evening hours due to limited staffing. Contact us in advance so that materials may be placed on hold.

Pencils, papers, books, and other research materials are permitted in the reading room. Pens, highlighters, and markers are prohibited, as well as food and drink (including candy and water).

Visitors are asked to store coats, bags, and other personal belongings in lockers when they arrive. Please be sure to bring in a government-issued photo id into the reading room with you if it is your first time visiting.

Speak with the reference desk staff on duty to request a temporary login for wireless or computer access. Both processes require photo identification.

Visitors can also set up their own account online.

Digital cameras are permitted in the Maryland Room to make personal research copies of Special Collections materials.

Handheld scanners or other personal scanners are not permitted.

Contact us in advance to discuss use a tripod in the reading room.

Food and drink is not permitted in the reading room. If you bring a lunch, you may keep it secure in a locker outside the reading room. Hornbake Library is located next to a courtyard with benches if you wish to enjoy your lunch outside. Vending machines are located in the south wing of Hornbake Library.

The Stamp Student Union and The Edward St. John Learning and Teaching Center are located within walking distance to Hornbake Library if you would like to buy lunch or take a coffee break.