Each patron to Special Collections will enter through our Reading Room, where an attendant will help them in their research and bring them the materials they request. More information about the basic procedures and rules for using the Reading Room and Special Collections materials are explained below.

If traveling from out of town, please contact us to make arrangements in advance of your visit. If we know your subject interest in advance, materials can be prepared for your arrival, so that you can use your time in Special Collections as productively as possible.

Please note, materials from our storage facility require at least two business days from time of request for materials to arrive to our Reading Room.

  • General Reading Room information
  • Personal items in the Reading Room
  • Requesting materials
  • Using materials
  • Reproducing and citing materials
  • Each patron must fill out a short form about their reason for visiting us upon entering the Reading Room.
  • Materials are to be used in the Reading Room only.
  • No pens, bags, food, beverages, or tobacco/e-smoking products are allowed.
  • Lockers are available at no cost for bags and other personal belongings.
  • Use of cell phones, smart devices, and laptops is permitted, as long as their use does not disturb other patrons and staff.
  • Upon leaving the Reading Room, please let the attendant know if you will return to reuse the same materials. If so, you will be provided a hold slip to complete.
  • Laptops, smart devices, personal cameras, paper, and pencils are allowed in the Reading Room. Other personal belongings, including bags, laptop cases, and briefcases, must be left by the entrance. Lockers are available for patrons to store these and other items. Each patron may take their locker key during their visit. We assume no responsibility for lost or stolen belongings.
  • Food, beverages, and tobacco products are not allowed in the Reading Room to prevent accidental damage to items. University Policy 1010 prohibits the use of tobacco products, including but not limited to cigarettes, chewing tobacco, e-cigarettes, and vaping devices, inside university buildings.
  • Use of cell phones, smart devices, and laptops are permitted as long as use does not disturb other patrons or staff. We ask that patrons keep their conversations to a minimum while using the Reading Room. Phone calls, group meetings, and video conferencing, such as the use of Skype, should be held outside of the Reading Room, unless patrons have received special permission from Special Collections staff. We reserve the right to ask each patron disturbing other patrons or staff to leave.
  • Special Collections materials do not circulate and may not be removed from the Reading Room. Each patron with a Hokie Passport or library patron account will be required to use it for on-site checkouts of items during each visit. A patron who does not have a Hokie Passport or a library account will still be able to use materials on-site.
  • Special Collections reserves the right to limit the number of materials requested or used at one time.
  • Ready Reference shelves at the front of the Reading Room are provided for each patron to use and retrieve. Please notify the Reading Room attendant when finished with these items, so they can count the use of specific volumes in our catalog system.
  • All other materials are kept in staff-only areas. Each patron should request these materials from the Reading Room attendant.
  • Requests for most items are filled on demand, but some materials are stored either in whole or in part within the University Libraries' off-campus storage facility. In order to use these materials, patrons must request that they be delivered to Special Collections for use in the Reading Room. Please allow for at least two business days from time of request for materials from our storage facility to arrive to our Reading Room. Contact us to make the necessary arrangements in advance of your visit.
  • Please handle items carefully. You are responsible for the materials that you use until their return to the Reading Room attendant.
  • When using manuscript collections, remove only one folder at a time from the box. Do not rearrange folders or materials within folders. If materials appear to be out of order, please alert the Reading Room attendant.
  • Use of pens is not permitted in order to prevent accidental damage to items. Pencils and notecards are available at the front entrance.
  • Materials are not to be marked, traced on, folded, cut, torn, or otherwise altered or defaced.
  • When taking notes, place notecards and tablets on the table, not on the materials being used.
  • Handle loose sheets or bound pages by their edges, and avoid touching the surface as much as possible.
  • Support the spines of rare or fragile books using foam supports provided by the Reading Room attendant.
  • As a safety precaution, do not stand on Reading Room chairs for any purpose. Step stools and step ladders are available upon request.
  • Photocopying and photographing material is permitted. See the Reproduction & Publication Policy for more information.
  • Manuscript and other materials used in research are to be cited in any resulting papers or publications. Researchers are urged to become familiar with copyright law as the department assumes no responsibility for copyright infringement. See the Reproduction & Publication Policy for more information.
  • Citation for use, publication, or exhibit: [Title of collection, (control number)], Special Collections, University Libraries, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University [URL, if applicable].
  • Please note: Each finding aid for a manuscript collection and university archive record group also contains a formatted citation for that particular collection.
  • If in doubt on how to cite an item from our collections, please contact us.


Monday - Friday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM*
*with exceptions

Site Map of
Special Collections