Special Collections is a closed-access
department housing materials that:
require special protection or handling due
to age, value, rarity or condition; or
are for some reason designated "a
collection" to be maintained separately from the library's
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
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
May I go into the stacks to browse for the
materials I need?
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.
How can I get the materials I need if I can't look for them
First, do a search on
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.