Policies for using materials in Special Collections & Archives

Special Collections & Archives (SC&A) provides materials that do not circulate because of their rarity, fragility or unusual format. Both staff and users have the obligation of preserving these materials for future use. Persons using SC&A materials must abide by the guidelines for the protection of the materials.

Visting Special Collections & Archives
Obtaining materials
Copyright and other laws

Visiting Special Collections & Archives

All researchers are encouraged to contact SC&A prior to their visit. Prior notice allows us to assess your research needs and to have resources ready upon your arrival. Please leave coats, bags, backpacks, briefcases, computer bags, and other possessions not essential to your work in the coat closet or lockers. Sign in on the Daily Register of Researchers.

For more information about visiting SC&A, please see our Visit page.

Obtaining materials

All materials must be used in SC&A. Materials in the department's care are brought to users by staff members; this is not a self-service or browsing department, except for reference works.  Researchers must fill out SC&A’s item request form for printed books, archival materials, and other items. Archival materials are paged at the box level. Non-Wesleyan users must also fill out a User Registration Form and show photo identification.

Most of the rare books are listed in Wesleyan's online catalog. In addition, some of the archival collections have online finding aids. There are also have various card files and other finding aids onsite. Please feel free to consult the staff about your research and questions about using SC&A materials.

All materials should be handled with extra care:

  • Use pencils only; no pens of any kind, please. Pencils are available if you do not have one.
  • Use only one folder or item at a time.
  • Folders of materials must be kept flat on a reading table. Bound volumes must be supported in a foam cradle. Book weights should be used to hold bound volumes open. Do not lean on materials, mark them, or take notes on top of them.
  • Turn pages gently. 
  • Keep any loose material in the order in which you find it.
  • Report any mis-arrangements, mutilations or unopened leaves.
  • The use of laptops and other electronic devices is permitted, but computer bags and associated gear must be stowed in a locker or the closet. Personal scanning devices are not permitted. See below for policies on reproductions and personal cameras.
  • For most materials, gloves are not required. At the discretion of the staff, researchers may be required to wear gloves when handling certain materials such as medieval manuscripts and unsleeved photographs.

Drinking, eating, chewing gum, smoking, and talking on cell phones are not permitted in SC&A.

When you are ready to leave, please inform a staff member and leave your materials neatly at your work area. Let us know whether you have finished using them. If not, we will keep them on hold for as long as you request. For the security of our materials, we reserve the right to examine your notes or personal property upon departure.


Personal cameras:

After consulting with staff, researchers may use their cell phones or personal cameras for obtaining reproductions of items, subject to applicable reproduction restrictions on the items. These images may be used for personal research only and may not be published, including posting online, without permission of SC&A. A target providing citation and rights information will be provided by a staff member to be placed next to the item(s) to be photographed. Photographed items must be recorded on a SC&A Request for Reproduction form; staff will provide guidance on how to describe the items on the form. There is no charge for use of personal cameras.

Rules for use of personal cameras:

1. No flash is permitted and any audible shutter sound must be turned off.

2. A target must be placed next to item(s) to be photographed, and photographed items must be notated on a SC&A Request for Reproduction form.

3. No standing on tables or furniture to take pictures.

4. Items must remain on the table and never placed on chairs, other furniture, or the floor.

5. Staff must be consulted for assistance with photographing difficult items.

Scans and photocopies:

Researchers may request scans of materials subject to the following restrictions:

  • Materials will not be harmed in the scanning process
  • Materials have been specifically identified by the requester
  • The amount of material requested must be limited to reasonable number of scans from the particular collection.
  • Researchers must complete an SC&A Request for Reproduction form and list specific items to be scanned, and also place markers (provided by staff) next to the item to be scanned.
  • Generally, only a small percentage of a collection may be scanned. Researchers should consult the staff for large requests.

Depending on the researcher’s preference, scans will be provided either as digital files or paper copies.


There are no charges for scans or photocopies. See the above paragraph for guidelines on restrictions.

Ordinarily, files will be delivered by email or server link; other delivery options may be arranged. Publication-quality copies are available on request. Scanning is done by staff members, usually within one or two working days of the request submission, unless it is a large order.


Images of materials held by SC&A may be published only with the permission of SC&A. Publication, as referred to here, includes paper books and journals, websites and blogs, video productions, and all other uses.

To request permission, please complete a Permission to Publish form. There may be use fees for commercial publication. Please contact the director of special collections or university archivist for further information.


SC&A may refuse requests for reproduction when the condition of the original will not permit it or when the originals were received with gift, purchase or legal restrictions on reproduction. The library may limit the number of copies made at any one time or for any one user because of limitations of staff or facilities.

Copyright and other laws

Users of materials at Wesleyan accept full legal responsibility for observing the copyright law, as well as the laws of libel and invasion of privacy and property rights.