Guidelines on Studying Rare and Archives Collection Materials

Studying Rare and Archives Collection Materials at the Ingalls Library and Archives

Materials from the rare book collection or the Museum Archives are studied in the Larry Sears and Sally Zlotnick Sears Reading Room, under the supervision of library and archives staff.

Readers wishing to study materials from the archives or rare book collection are encouraged to make an appointment in advance. It is usually possible to accommodate readers without appointments, but depending on staff availability, paging times, and other appointments, same-day requests are not guaranteed. Furthermore, not all archives collections are open to the public. By calling ahead, patrons can make certain the desired materials are available.

General Guidelines for Using the Reading Room

Items Allowed in the Reading Room

  • Pencil and paper for note taking
  • Personal laptop and tablet computer for note taking
  • Purses, which must be kept on the floor
  • Other reference books, if necessary for studying the material(s)

Items Not Allowed in the Reading Room

  • Pens, markers, highlighters, and any writing implement other than pencils
  • Self-adhesive notes, flags, and page markers
  • Bags, briefcases, and laptop bags
  • Food or beverages, including mints, gum, and cough drops
  • Coats, hats, scarves, and other loose articles of clothing

Studying Items in the Reading Room

  • Policies and Terms of Use Agreement: The Ingalls Library is a noncirculating art research collection intended to assist visitors with research needs that cannot be met by local public, university, and college library collections.
  • Visitors are expected to complete the Patron Registration Form and the Policies and Terms of Use Agreement, and to abide by the stated policies with respect for the rights of others and with respect for the collections. Failure to do so will result in loss of library privileges and removal from the library and the museum. Access to the Ingalls Library and Museum Archives is granted at the sole discretion of the staff and such access may be denied or revoked at any time.
  • Before studying the item(s) from the rare or archives collections, the reader should do the following: 
    • Check any items not allowed in the reading room at the coat check in the north lobby.
    • Wash their hands. Gloves may be required with certain materials.
    • Clear the table of extraneous materials.
  • Once the items have been retrieved, room staff will provide any necessary wedges, weights, or other support materials to make handling and use as safe as possible. Staff may also advise a reader on safe handling. Readers should not hesitate to ask for assistance if an item is difficult to handle or seems at risk of being damaged.
  • If an item is damaged in any way, the reader should alert staff so it can be addressed immediately.
  • If the book has uncut pages, the reader should alert staff. Depending on the item, and at the discretion of staff, uncut pages may be left uncut.
  • Readers must follow good handling practices:
    • Handle materials gently. Move slowly. Do not allow loose sleeves, jewelry, or hair to touch materials.
    • Keep all materials on the table. Do not hold items in the air, in one’s hands, or in one’s lap.
    • Turn pages carefully. Use the corner of a loose piece of paper or bookmark to help separate pages before turning.
    • Do not touch materials more than is absolutely necessary: to open and close or to turn pages. Do not run fingers over text or images.
    • Tracing is prohibited.
    • Turn away from materials to sneeze and cough. Rewash your hands as necessary.
    • Do not chew gum or eat mints, candy, or cough drops.
  • If the reader needs to leave the reading room while still studying the item(s), they must tell staff.
  • When finished, the reader should notify staff. They will collect the rare item(s). Staff may ask the reader to remain until all items and enclosures are accounted for.

Specific Guidelines for Studying Items from the Rare Book Collection

  1. Requesting and Returning Rare Items
    • Though not required, readers interested in viewing rare items are encouraged to contact the library in advance to ensure space and staff will be available.
    • Staff must be available to supervise readers. In the unusual circumstance that staff cannot provide adequate supervision to additional readers, the reader may be asked to return at later time.
    • Rare items are requested by submitting an electronic call slip. To submit an electronic call slip, one must be a registered patron (register at the circulation desk).
    • A maximum of five rare titles or a single multivolume set can be requested for one sitting. If any of those items are large or pose other challenges that could potentially endanger the materials during transport or study, the reader may be granted access to fewer items at the discretion of library staff.
    • Circulation staff will retrieve rare items from the stacks at approximately 9:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
    • All rare materials are collected at 3:15 p.m. for reshelving.
    • Readers arriving in the afternoon whose requests are paged at 2:00 p.m. should be aware that they will only have approximately one hour to use the item/s.
  2. Photocopying, Scanning, and Photography Policy
    • Rare materials are not to be photocopied or scanned.
    • A limited amount of photography is permitted to alleviate the need for extensive note taking, not to create a complete facsimile. The safety of the materials is of utmost concern.
    • Photography guidelines for rare collection materials are as follows:
      • Comply with all the handling rules stated above.
      • The item must not be manipulated in any way to improve the quality of the photograph.
      • The item may not be taken into another room to be photographed.
      • No flashes, strobes, tripods, monopods, or other special photography is permitted.
      • The camera or phone should be in silent mode.
      • Photography must cease if library staff determines that the process is putting the object at risk.
      • Readers taking photographs are responsible for adhering to all copyright obligations. Images may not be published in print or online.

Specific Guidelines for Studying Items from the Archives Collection

  1. Readers interested in viewing archival materials should contact the archives in advance to make an appointment.
  2. The director of archives determines the collections that are available. Some archival collections are restricted or permanently closed to researchers.
  3. Archives staff retrieve materials from closed stacks as needed and available using archives call slips filled out by either the patron or archives staff. Call slips are a permanent record of the use of archival collections.
  4. Researchers may use one box of records or one folder of oversized material at a time. Return material to the supervising staff member before requesting another box or folder.
  5. Materials must be kept in the order in which they are found within each box and folder.
  6. Reproduction and/or photography of archival material is at the discretion of the archivist.
  7. All copies are made by staff. Do not remove items to be copied. Instructions for flagging items to be copied will be provided. Consult archives staff about scanning options.
  8. Citations should acknowledge the Cleveland Museum of Art archives and note the collection name, box number, folder title, and date.