Reading Room Guidelines

Our materials, including archival and manuscript collections, rare books, and other special collections do not circulate and must be viewed in the John P. McDonald Reading Room. The McDonald Reading Room is equipped with audio-visual equipment, computers, and listening stations for researchers using multimedia materials.

All researchers must register before accessing materials. You can fill out the Researcher Registration Form online ahead of time or onsite on the day of your visit. Staff will ask you to show a photo ID and to place your personal belongings in one of our coatroom lockers.

Please keep the following considerations in mind as you prepare for your visit:

  • No food or drink are allowed in the reading room, including water, gum, candy, or cough drops.
  • Some materials may be subject to access or reproduction restrictions due to donor agreement, privacy considerations, or preservation concerns.
  • Staff will ask you to store bags, purses, coats, and other personal property in our coatroom lockers. Bags may be subject to search by staff.
  • You can bring laptops, loose paper, and pencils into the reading room. Pens, markers, and highlighters are not allowed.

See our Reading Room Policies  for additional guidance. Staff will go over these policies and any use or handling considerations with you on your arrival.

Obtaining Copies of Collections

You are welcome to bring a cellphone, tablet, or digital camera to take photographs of collections material for personal research use. We do not allow tripods, handheld scanners, or lighting equipment. Please see our Self-Service Photography Policy for additional guidance.

We can also provide copies for you, for a nominal fee. Reproduction orders generally have a 15-working-day turnaround. Find out more about our services and charges.


If you have questions about accessing our collections, planning a visit, or ordering reproductions, please contact our Research Services staff at (860) 486-2524 or