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Visit Special Collections

Information about our reading rooms and what to expect when you visit.

Reading Room Locations

Maryland Room in Hornbake Library

Special Collections and University Archives

The Maryland Room
Hornbake Library North, 
Rm 1202
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742


Appointments required.

Lowens Room in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library

Special Collections in Performing Arts

The Lowens Room
Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, Rm 1517
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742


Appointments encouraged.

Piano keys

International Piano Archives at Maryland

IPAM Reading Room
Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, Rm 2517D
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742 


Appointments encouraged.

Getting Started

Begin your research by exploring guides, databases, and other resources to locate materials relevant to your research.

Need help getting started? Contact us for research support. Special Collections librarians are available to provide research assistance in person and remotely. 

We aim to assist all researchers to the best of our ability and can provide up to one hour of in-depth research time. For complex researcher questions, we encourage you to contact us well in advance. We are continuously striving to make our collections more easily discoverable and it is our priority is to help patrons navigate these systems and develop helpful search strategies.

Before Your Visit

Visitors to Special Collections in Hornbake Library are required to schedule a reading room appointment at least 3 business days in advance. 

Submit requests for material you plan to consult during your visit at least 3 business days in advance. Special Collections materials may be stored offsite, be part of an unprocessed collection that requires screening, or contain restricted files. These materials will take additional time to make available in the reading room.

Follow these steps for a successful visit to Special Collections: 

  1. Register for a Special Collections Account
  2. Schedule a Reading Room Appointment
  3. Submit Requests for Material

Have a question about your visit? Contact us for assistance scheduling a reading room appointment, requesting materials to view in the reading room or remotely, and more.

During Your Visit

When you arrive you will sign-in at our welcome desk and place your belongings in a locker.

  • Laptops (no bags),
  • Pencils
  • Papers
  • Books
  • Phones
  • Other appropriate research materials
  • Bags
  • Coats and other outerwear
  • Pens
  • Highlighters, markers, and permanent ink items
  • Food and drink (including candy and water)
  • Other items that may cause damage to Special Collections material

Inside the reading room, the Special Collections librarian will greet you and check you into the reading room. If this is your first visit, you will be asked to present bring a government or university-issued photo ID.

The librarian will show you to a research table where the materials you requested have been placed on hold. You will be given instructions for handling Special Collections materials.

Our librarians can answers questions during your visit, provide instructions for how to obtain copies from our collections, and help you identify materials for future research. 

Instructions to connect to wi-fi in the reading room can be found here. Public computers are available in the reading room for all visitors.

Duplication of Special Collections Material

Researchers visiting Special Collections reading rooms are permitted to make copies using:

  • A personal camera or cell phone (no flash photography)
  • Large format overhead scanners (for book collections only)
  • Digital microfilm readers to scan images from microfilm and microfiche

Speak to the Special Collections librarian on duty in the reading room to request high resolution or PDF scans of archival materials.

Review our duplication services for more details, including duplication fees and preferred citation format.

Handling Special Collections Material

Special collections materials are non-circulating and may not leave the reading room. To help preserve our collections, all researchers must handle special collections materials with care.

Researchers must adhere to the following guidelines for the proper handling of materials in the reading room. The librarian on duty in the reading room will provide additional instructions as needed.

  • Handle all materials with clean, dry hands.
  • Do not rest objects or take notes on top of special collections materials.
  • Special Collections materials are to be used on designated tables in the reading room.
  • Consult only one box on a research table at a time.
  • Consult only one folder at any time.
  • Use an "out card" when removing a single folder from a box.
  • Maintain the existing order and arrangement of materials.
  • Leave all materials flat on the table, not hanging off the edge.
  • Turn pages gently one at a time.
  • Do not add or erase marks in documents.
  • Do not remove staples or other fasteners.
  • Do not remove items from protective sleeves.
  • Gloves are required when handling photographs.
  • View up to 3 items on a research table at a time.
  • Do not lean on books, trace over/ write on pages, or force bindings open.
  • Do not fold pages.
  • Turn pages gently one at a time.
  • Do not use post-it notes on pages or bindings.
  • Do not add or erase marks in books.
  • Foam book cradles and book weights will be provided to use with fragile or oversize books.
  • Consult 1 reel/folder at a time.
  • Return film to box/folder when finished.
  • Handle gently to prevent fingerprints, scratches, or creases to the film.
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