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Request Access to Special Collections at UMD

A guide to help researchers request material from our Archival Collections database, WorldCatUM, and our Classic Catalog.

Helpful Information

What are Special Collections?
Who do I contact for help with my research?
What is a Special Collections Account?
How do I access materials from Special Collections at UMD?
Why do I need to schedule an appointment?
How do I request to view items from Special Collections in-person?
Is there a limit on how many items I can request?
What if I am unable to visit the reading room in-person?
What is the “Library” field of my request?
I submitted my requests. What's next?
Can I make copies of special collection materials in the reading room?
How can I track the progress of my request?
When will I receive the copies I requested?

What are special collections?

Special Collections at UMD contain primary and secondary resources that cover a wide range of subjects. Special collection materials have characteristics which set them apart from other collections in the Libraries. These qualities may include:

  • Rarity: books, manuscripts and other materials which are old, scarce or unique.
  • Format: photographs, slides, films, audio and video recordings, maps, artworks, artifacts and other objects that require special handling.
  • Comprehensiveness: accumulations of materials that are individually not unique, but collectively comprise an important resource or relate to a particular topic, group or activity.

Special collections materials are non-circulating and located in staff-only closed stacks. We welcome students, researchers, and the general public to consult our collections. Onsite access to special collections materials is provided in the reading room.

The Special Collections and University Archives reading room is located in the Maryland Room (1202) in Hornbake Library North.

The Special Collections in the Performing Arts reading room is located in the The Lowens Room (1517) in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library.
 

Who do I contact for help with my research?

Special Collections librarians are here to help and can provide research assistance in-person and remotely. This includes:

  • Research consultations to help you locate special collections materials relevant to your research.
  • Assistance scheduling a reading room appointment.
  • Assistance submitting requests to view special collections materials in the reading room. 
  • Digitization and duplication services for most special collections and archival material.

Although we try to answer questions to the best of our ability, library staff can provide up to one hour of in-depth research time. We are continuously striving to make our collections more easily discoverable and are glad to help patrons navigate these systems and develop search strategies.

Contact us for help with your research.
 

What is a Special Collections Account?

All researchers requesting onsite use or copies from Special Collections at UMD are required to register for a Special Collections Account. With a Special Collections Account you will be able to:

  • Request materials you want to view in the reading room.
  • Submit requests for copies and download completed orders.
  • View and track the status of requests and orders.

Register for a Special Collections Account online.
 

How do I access materials from Special Collections at UMD?

Special Collections materials are non-circulating and cannot be checked out due to their rarity, condition, and value. To access material from Special Collections at UMD:

  1. Register for a Special Collections Account.
  2. Schedule an appointment to visit the reading room. 
  3. Submit requests for items you want to consult  using your Special Collections Account.

Material from our collections has been digitized and can be accessed online in our Digital Collections repository. 

Need help? special collections librarians are available to help you navigate and access our collections.  Contact us for assistance.
 

Why do I need to schedule an appointment?

Scheduling an appointment to visit the reading room provides time for you to organize your research, identify the materials you want to view in-person, and submit requests for those materials. It also allows Special Collections staff time to retrieve the materials you requested so they are on hold when you arrive for your appointment.

Appointments should be scheduled at least 3 business days in advance. Some materials may take additional time to make available in the reading room. Please allow additional time when requesting:

  1. Materials located offsite.
  2. Unprocessed collections that require screening for restricted materials.

Need help? Contact us for assistance scheduling your appointment.
 

How do I request to view items from special collections in-person?

Search for items you want to view from Special Collections at UMD using the online catalog, archival collections database, and digital collections

Once you locate an item you would like to view, select Request from Special Collections to initiate your request. You will be asked to sign in to your Special Collections Account and submit your request. 

Before placing a request onsite use of Special Collections and University Archives materials, schedule an appointment to visit the reading room online.

Contact us for assistance submitting your request.

 

Is there a limit on how many items I can request?

Yes. You can request to view up to 12 items/boxes at a time. Contact us if you plan to request a large number of items/boxes from our collections so we can help you maximize your time in the reading room.

You can plan ahead and save additional requests in your Special Collections Account. Select Keep for My Review when submitting the request. Once you have finished with your first 12 boxes, you can log into your account and submit these saved requests to reading room staff for retrieval.

 

Can I make copies of special collection materials in the reading room?

Digital cameras (no flash) and phone photography are allowed in the reading room and can be used to make personal research copies of materials.

Overhead scanners are available in the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library for copying book collections. The overhead scanner cannot be used to scan materials from archival collections. 

You can request digital copies of materials from archival collections to be completed by Special Collections staff. Read more about our duplication services.

 

What if I am unable to visit the reading room in-person?

If you are unable to visit, some of our collections have been digitized and can be accessed online in our Digital Collections repository.

You can also submit a duplication order for special collections materials that have not been digitized using your Special Collections Account

Duplication orders are subject to the following conditions:

  1. Physical condition of the materials.
  2. Limited staff and resources.
  3. Donor-imposed restrictions.
  4. Other rights related issues.

Before requesting copies of special collections materials, review our duplication services.

Contact us for assistance with remote research.


What is the “Library” field of my request?

The Library field in a request identifies the reading room where the items are physically located. In most cases, this field is automatically populated. 

If you are asked to choose a a Library:

Select Maryland Room if you are requesting an item from Special Collections and University Archives in Hornbake Library.

Select Special Collections in the Performing Arts if you are requesting materials in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, including:

I submitted my requests. What's next?

Once you have scheduled your appointment and submitted your requests, visit the reading room on your appointment day to view special collections material placed on hold for you.

Requests must be submitted at least three business days in advance of your appointment date. This is to allow adequate time for staff to retrieve your requested materials and place them on hold for your visit. Materials located offsite and unprocessed collections that need screening may take additional time to retrieve. 

If you placed a request to view materials from Special Collections and University Archives in Hornbake Library:

If you placed a request for materials from Special Collections in Performing Arts and the International Piano Archives at Maryland:

If you requested copies and do not plan to visit the reading room, special collections staff will begin processing your request for copies and reach out to you if more information is needed.
 

How can I track the progress of my request?

You can track the status of your request or duplication order in your Special Collections Account. As your request is being processed by Special Collections staff, you'll notice the status change in your account.

Log into your Special Collections Account and select My Requests in the menu. The status of your request(s) will appear in the Status column.

  • Item On Hold: Your request is ready to view in the reading room and will remain so until your scheduled appointment date.
     
  • Awaiting Item Delivery: Your duplication order is being processed by staff. You will receive an email once the order is completed.
     
  • Awaiting Request Processing - Reading Room: Your request has been received to view materials in the reading room.
     
  • Awaiting Request Processing - Duplication: Your request for a duplication order has been received.
     
  • Awaiting User Review: Your request has NOT been received. ​​​​​​Log into your Special Collections Account and view your Unsubmitted Requests from the menu options. Follow the instructions to submit your request.
     
  • In Retrieval: Your request is currently being retrieved by staff.
     
  • Item Delivered: You order is completed and ready to download from your account. 

Submitting a request does not automatically schedule a reading room appointment. We encourage all researchers to schedule a reading room appointment online to visit the reading room BEFORE submitting your request.

 

When will I receive the copies I requested?

Duplication orders may take up to 3 weeks to complete. Large or complex orders, including duplication of A/V materials, may take additional time. Contact us for an estimated delivery timeframe for your order before submitting your order. Rush orders can be requested, but are not guaranteed.

Once your order is completed, you will receive an email with instructions on how to download your order from your Special Collections Account. It is important to save your files once they are delivered, as files are automatically deleted from your account after 30 days.

Contact us if you have any questions regarding your duplication order.