Kislak Center
for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts

Reader Services

Reading Room Access

All readers are welcome to consult Rare Book and Manuscript Library materials in the reading room during our regular opening hours.

Although appointments are not required, researchers with special interests or those wishing to consult large collections may wish to contact us in advance so that we may provide assistance. Note also that some collections are stored offsite and not accessible except by prior arrangement. Please email us with any questions.

Note that hours may vary during intersessions and holiday periods; please consult our website for special closings. Admittance to the reading room ends 15 minutes prior to our closing time.

Non-PennCard holders must make prior arrangements with our staff if they wish to visit during examination periods or if they plan on arriving after 6:00 PM on Wednesday. Please email us with any questions.

The reading room is only for consultation of collection materials and may not be used for general study.

Registration & Policies

Upon entering the reading room reception, please sign into our guestbook and provide the receptionist a current and valid photographic ID card. Your ID card will be held at the reception desk during the duration of your visit. On your first visit you must fill out the appropriate registration forms.

All personal belongings must be stored in the lockers provided or our coat closet.  Keys will be kept at the reception desk.

Laptop computers, small cameras, pencils, secondary material, and reference books may be brought into the reading room.  Pencils and paper for notes are provided inside the reading room. All other items such as pens, highlighters, markers, and hand scanners are not permitted. Personal notes are only allowed to be brought into the reading room with the approval of staff. All items being brought into the reading room will be inspected by the receptionist prior to entering, and items will be inspected again before you leave.

Absolutely no food or drinks are allowed in the reading room areas.  Please dispose of any open food or drink before entering, or store unopened food or drink in your locker. Water fountains and restrooms are located outside of the reading room, down a nearby hallway.

All cell phones should be left on silent or vibrate.  We ask that patrons refrain from talking on cell phones while they are in the reading room.

Requesting and Reserving Materials

Collection materials must be requested using call slips available in the reading room, and all items must be consulted in the reading room. Computer stations will be located in the reading room for you to look up call numbers. Please consult a staff member if you are unfamiliar with filling out our call slips. Staff will endeavor to deliver on-site materials promptly within 10 to 15 minutes. Reading room staff may limit the number of items that can be used at a time.

Please note that some of our collections are stored off-site, and retrieval will take at least one business day. Consult one of our staff members to determine if the materials you need are stored off-site.

For quicker access on return visits, you may place materials on hold. Materials that have not been consulted for over two weeks will be re-shelved.

Handling Materials

We ask that researchers arrive in the Reading Room with clean hands; restrooms are located adjacent to the reception area. Reading Room staff will provide instruction on the proper handling of collection materials in the reading room. In the case of book requests, book cradles and book weights will be provided for you. In the case of manuscripts, please leave all materials flat on the table. Readers are required to consult only one box and/or one folder at a time. Please be considerate of the materials and handle them with care.   Any questions about the condition or handling of items, or about the ordering or condition of materials that you are consulting, should be brought to the attention of Reading Room staff.