Special Collections Service Guidelines

Butler University Libraries’ Department of Special Collections, Rare Books, and University Archives is located on the third floor of the Irwin Library in the Hugh Thomas Miller Rare Books Room. Materials do not circulate; researchers must use them in the reading area.


View the About Us and Contact Information page on the Special Collections website for normal operating hours.

Appointments are required to view materials to allow the department time to properly prepare for your research visit. Normal operating hours for the department are 9:00 AM-4:30 PM, Monday-Friday. It is closed weekends, holidays, and for scheduled library closings. Please be sure to contact us to make an appointment in case of scheduling conflicts, especially if coming from a distance, to verify that we will be available.  Contact the department at specialcollections@butler.edu.


Butler faculty, staff, and students will be asked to show a current university ID each time they use the collections. Researchers not affiliated with Butler will be asked to fill out a registration form (good for one year) and show a photographic ID for verification. On subsequent visits during the year, you will be asked to show your photographic ID.

Personal Property

Place personal property, including coats, briefcases, purses, backpacks, book bags, and computer cases outside of the room (this is to prevent clutter and restricted movability). Lockers are available to stow belongings; please ask staff about reserving a locker and key. Food and drink are not permitted in the room but may be left outside the room. Only materials needed for research, including pencils, paper, and research notes, may be kept with you. Any personal property brought into the room is subject to inspection upon leaving.

Requesting Materials

Please view the updated Special Collections website for available collection guides and information on the department’s holdings. Most rare books are accessible through the online catalog. Staff can direct you to the appropriate tools and aid you in finding materials.

Before viewing materials, we will assist you in filling out and signing a Materials Request Form that records what collections and collection materials you used during your research visit (this is primarily for internal statistics). Please either ask for a form at the service desk or print a copy from the Special Collections website and return to a staff member.

Staff will bring your materials from the stacks and bring them to the reading area. Please return your materials to the staff member at the service desk. Materials can be retrieved until 30 minutes prior to the department’s closing.

Handling Materials

Your cooperation in following the procedures below is necessary and appreciated to help preserve materials for future generations of researchers:

  • Wash your hands directly before your appointment.
  • Use only pencils to take notes; pens are not allowed.
  • Handle all materials with care, and follow the instructions given to you by staff.
  • Keep books, bound volumes, manuscripts, and photographs flat on the table. Request book props or stands if you need to hold materials at a more comfortable viewing angle.
  • Except for special weights provided, do not lay any objects on top of materials.
  • Turn items or pages carefully.
  • Maintain all materials in the exact order received.
  • You may not trace or scan.
  • You may be asked to use white cotton gloves when using some materials.

Use of Equipment

You may use laptop computers within the room. Please see the Reproduction of Materials section below for more information on photographing materials.

Reproduction of Materials

Reproducing materials by photocopying, scanning, or photographic processes can be extremely damaging to rare and fragile materials. We encourage researchers to allow sufficient time to take notes since this is the least damaging way to carry the information home.

Please ask for a Reproduction Request Form at the service desk (or print one from the Special Collections website) if photocopies or scans of materials are needed (this is primarily for internal statistics); fees will be collected for copies and scans. Photographs of materials with no flash are generally allowed, but please consult staff prior to taking any photographs.

We reserve the right to refuse a reproduction request if filling the request would result in damage to the materials being copied or would violate copyright law. Generally, nothing will be reproduced in its entirety, and no more than fifty pages or one-third of a collection will be reproduced, whichever is smaller. Reproductions, including photographs, are for private study, scholarship, or research use only. Note that this form does not give permission or copyright clearance to use the materials for other than research or educational purposes. See the Publication of Collection Materials section below for more information.

Staff will complete all reproduction work. Requests will be filled as quickly as possible, based on staff time and equipment access. If necessary, you may be asked to pick up your copies the next day or have them mailed to you.


Photocopying: 25 cents per page for photocopying

Scanning: Prices will vary depending upon the specifics of the request and market prices since portions of these services are done out-of-house. Please discuss your needs with the department staff.

Publication of Collection Materials

“Publish” means the distribution of, or intent to distribute, any number of copies of a work, either by sale or for free. If your use of materials may result in a published work, please inform the staff member at the service desk. You will be asked to complete a Permission to Publish Contract. Please note that researchers must obtain all copyright clearances before publishing.