TRUMAN STATE UNIVERSITY Pickler Memorial Library Truman State University

Frequently Asked Questions

What, exactly, is "Special Collections"?


Special Collections is a closed-access department housing materials that:

  1. require special protection or handling due to age, value, rarity or condition; or

  2. are for some reason designated "a collection" to be maintained separately from the library's circulating collection.

Why is it always so COLD in Special Collections?

Most of the materials in this department can never be replaced, so it is important that we maintain the best environment possible for their preservation. Heat, high or low humidity and the fluctuation of temperature and/or humidity accelerate the deterioration of paper, leather, ink, plastics and other components of books, periodicals, manuscripts and media formats. Heat and humidity also cause mold and mildew and create a comfortable environment for insects that like to feast on the materials. Therefore, we try to maintain a fairly constant temperature of about 60-65o F and a relative humidity of 50%.

These levels are good for the materials but can become rather uncomfortable for humans after a while, so we suggest you dress in layers or bring a sweater or sweat shirt with you if you plan to study in the department for any length of time.

Why can't I check anything out of this department?

The materials in Special Collections are non-circulating, which means they must be used in the department's reading room. The very elements which make these items part of a "special" collection also make them candidates for special handling, so we keep them here to lessen the amount of wear and tear and decrease the potential for loss or damage. For the same reasons, we have a few simple reading room procedures.

May I go into the stacks to browse for the materials I need?

Sorry, Special Collections is a "closed access" department and only library staff may go into the stacks. Just as they require special handling, some of our materials require special shelving or storage so our stacks are arranged differently than the General Collection stacks you are used to using. It can be very difficult to physically navigate through the area, to say nothing of actually finding the material you need. lower stacks in Special Collections
upper stacks in Special Collections

How can I get the materials I need if I can't look for them myself?

First, do a search on the Library Catalogue. If you have the name of the book or its call number and location, we can retrieve it from the shelf and bring it to you. We may also locate other books in our collection that contain information on the same topic.

When you come to the desk, tell us about your project or assignment and we'll help you with search strategies. Special Collections staff is familiar with the department's materials - those things that are on the catalogue as well as those that are not. We may have some documents in our manuscript collections or the University Archives that could be just the thing you need or we might know of a book with some obscure reference to your subject. Don't be afraid to ask - we enjoy this kind of search.

Continue for a Short Description of the Collections

Return to Special Collections Homepage
Manuscripts  |  Archives 
E. M. Violette Museum 


Encouraging Discovery