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Requesting Special Collections Materials at UMD

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

Important Links

Contact Us

For more information about accessing our collections in-person or remotely.


Register for a Special Collections Account

To view materials or place duplication orders from the collection.


Schedule an Appointment

To view materials in the reading room.


Information About Visiting

Reading room locations, what to expect, and more.


Duplication Services

Fees, citations, and other guidelines for requesting copies of special collections materials.

About this Guide

Welcome to the Guide to Requesting Special Collections Materials at UMD!

The University of Maryland Libraries welcomes all researchers to our special collections libraries:

Appointments are encouraged to visit our reading rooms. Schedule a reading room appointment online.

All researchers requesting materials from the special collections libraries at the University of Maryland are required to register for a Special Collections Account.

Once you register, submit reading room requests and requests for copies directly from your account using our discovery tools, including:

Need help? Contact us.

Helpful Information

What is a Special Collections Account?

All researchers requesting materials from the special collections libraries at the University of Maryland are required to register for a Special Collections Account. With a Special Collections Account you will be able to:

  • Request materials you want to consult in the reading room.
  • Submit duplication orders remotely and download electronically delivered files.
  • View and track the status of requests and orders.
  • Review your request history.

What are special collections?

Special collections contain both primary and secondary resource materials that have characteristics which set them apart from other types of collections in 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.
  • Provenance: items which relate to a particular topic, individual, group, or activity.

Special collection materials are non-circulating and located in closed stacks. Onsite access to special collections materials is provided in the special collections reading rooms.

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.

Can I check out materials from Special Collections and University Archives?

Due to their rarity, condition, and value, Special Collections and University Archives materials do not circulate.

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 books collections, depending on their age and condition. You cannot scan archival collections on the overhead scanner.  

It is also possible to arrange for digital copies of materials. Read more about our duplication policies.

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

If you are unable to visit, you can submit a duplication order for special collections materials remotely, using your Special Collections Account. Duplication orders are subject to the following conditions: physical condition of the materials, limited staff and resources, donor-imposed restrictions, or other rights related issues. Before requesting copies of special collections materials, review our duplication policies.

Contact us with questions about requesting copies of special collections materials.


How do I access materials from special collections?

To view special collections materials in person, submit a request using your Special Collections Account.

Before placing a request to view Special Collections & University Archives materials in the reading room, schedule an appointment to visit the reading room online.

Log in to your Special Collections Account and use the links in the menu to locate materials from the online catalog, archival finding aids, or digital collections.

Selecting one of these options will direct you to the discovery tool, where you can search our collections. Use the 'Request from Special Collections' links in the item record to initiate your request.

Contact us for assistance searching or requesting materials.

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.

Once you have reviewed your first 12 items/boxes, you are able to make additional requests.

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

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.

What should I choose in the “Library” field of my request?

The "Library" field identifies the reading room where the items are physically located. 

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

Choose "Special Collections in the Performing Arts" if you are requesting materials in the Performing Arts Library, including:

I submitted my requests. What next?

Get ready to visit the reading room!

If you have not already done so, schedule an appointment to visit the reading room.

If you placed a request to view materials from Special Collections and University Archives in Hornbake Library, visit the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library.

If you placed a request for materials from Special Collections in Performing Arts and the International Piano Archives at Maryland, visit the reading room in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library.

If you submitted a duplication order, special collections staff will begin processing the order and reach out to you if more information is needed.

Has my request/duplication order been processed? How will I know when my request is ready in the reading room?

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

Here are a few examples:

  • Item On Hold: Your request is ready to view in the reading room and will remain so until your scheduled appointment.
  • Awaiting Item Delivery: Your duplication order being worked on 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 account to select the "Unsubmitted Requests" menu option. Follow the instructions to submit your request.
  • In Retrieval: Your request is currently being processed by staff.
  • Item Delivered: You order is completed and ready to download from your account. You will receive an email with instructions to download the files in your account.

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

Submitting a request does not automatically schedule a reading room appointment. We encourage all researchers to schedule a reading room appointment online.


When will I receive my completed duplication order?

Most duplication orders can take up to 3 weeks to complete. Large or complex orders, including duplication of A/V materials, may take additional time. Consult with special collections staff about the estimate delivery timeframe 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.

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