Skip to main content

Visit Special Collections

Information about how to find us and what to expect during your visit.


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 Special Collections guides and databases on our Find Special Collections page 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 and submit requests for materials they plan to consult in the reading room at least 3 business days in advance. 

Special Collections materials may be stored offsite, may 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 to ensure your visit will be as productive as possible:

During Your Visit

Before you enter the reading room, you will check-in at our welcome desk and place your belongings in a locker.

  • Permitted in the reading room:
    • Laptops (no bags), pencils, papers, books, phones, and other research materials.
  • Not permitted in the reading room:
    • Bags, coats (and other outerwear), pens, highlighters, markers, food and drink (including candy and water), and other items that could cause damage to Special Collections material.

Inside the reading room, the Special Collections librarian on duty will greet you and show you to a research table. The material you previously requested will be placed on hold for your visit. 

  • If this is your first visit, you will be asked to present bring a government or university-issued photo ID.

Our librarians can answers questions during your visit, provide instructions for how to make/request 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.

Making Copies

Researchers visiting our 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.

  • Scanning archival collections on large format overhead scanners is not permitted.

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.

Archival Material

  • 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.

Books and Publications

  • 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.
Back to Top