Visit Special Collections

Planning a visit

All materials in AHTL’s Special Collections are available for research to students, faculty, visiting scholars, and others with interest in these materials. No letters of introduction are necessary. Please contact Special Collections in advance of your visit to ensure access to collections stored offsite. 

Special Collections materials are generally available Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm, excluding University holidays. Because many collections are stored offsite, please place requests at least two business days in advance of your intended visit.

Requesting materials

For materials in HOLLIS: Materials located in the HOLLIS catalog have embedded “Request Item” links that generate your request.  First time users will be asked to create a Harvard Library Special Collections Request account.

For materials located via the Finding Aids: Identify the collection and box numbers of the materials you would like to review and request them through the Harvard Library Special Collections Request account.

If you have questions about a collection or if you want to inquire about obtaining reproductions of material or other services, please contact Special Collections.

Make an appointment

 When you know when you would like to visit, contact Special Collections via email or phone (617.998.1424) to set up a research appointment.

Because most material is stored offsite, we recommend that you make an appointment at least two business days in advance of your visit. Walk-in requests may be accommodated based on staff availability and the location of materials but cannot be guaranteed.

Special Collections are generally available from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday with the exception of University holidays.

When you arrive/Reading Room policies

When entering the library, visitors without Harvard University ID “swipe” access should ask staff at the Circulation Desk to open access gates and will be asked to sign in with a photo ID before proceeding to the third  floor.

Once you’ve arrived on the third floor, please check in with a Special Collections staff member. You will be directed to storage lockers for personal belongings not needed for research work. You will be asked for Harvard or other photo ID and your materials will be delivered to the Reading Room.

Cameras, laptops, and phones (in silent mode) are allowed in the Reading Room. Pencils and paper are provided for your convenience. Absolutely no food, drinks (including water), candy, or gum are allowed in the Reading Room. Clean, dry hands are essential when handling Special Collections materials. Sinks for hand washing are nearby in the third floor restrooms.

Please help us preserve the rare, fragile, and unique items in our collections. In advance of your visit, please review the full Reading Room policy (PDF).