Our Collection

The Charles Henry Marshall Reading Room.
The Charles Henry Marshall Reading Room.

Using the Special Collections

There is currently limited on-site access to rare books or archives. Please consult our Special Collections Librarian for questions or assistance at rare_books@nysoclib.org.

For more details, see our What to Expect page about current services.

The Charles Henry Marshall Reading Room is open Mondays and Fridays, 9:30am to 4:30pm by appointment. Outside researchers are required to schedule an appointment in advance. Same-day requests from Library members will be accommodated on a case-by-case basis, but scheduling in advance is strongly preferred.

Scheduling an Appointment

To make an appointment, please email rare_books@nysoclib.org. If you are unable to visit the Library on a Monday or Friday during the Reading Room's open hours, please let us know in your email and we will do our best to accommodate your schedule.

Researchers wishing to conduct long-term studies of our collections are also welcome. Please contact the Special Collections staff to make arrangements.

What to Expect in the Reading Room

When you arrive, please identify yourself at the circulation desk. A staff member will escort you to the Marshall Room, located on the fourth floor of the Library. You may bring a laptop computer, pencil and paper, and camera into the Marshall Room. Researchers are also welcome to photograph material without the use of a flash for study purposes. On your first visit, we will ask you to complete a reader registration form. These forms are updated annually, and we ask that readers complete new forms accordingly as their research continues.

Guidelines for Handling Rare Materials

Please take some time to read these guidelines before you arrive. We will ask you to sign them as part of your annual reader registration. By observing these rules, you can help to preserve our collections for future use.

  1. Hands must be clean and dry before handling materials.
  2. Use pencil only for taking notes; the use of any kind of pen is prohibited.
  3. Special Collections materials are for use in the Marshall Room only and may not be removed from the area designated for their use; these books do not circulate. The supervisor must have an unobstructed view of your work area.
  4. Books and albums should be opened carefully and book cradles used for support. We will provide weights as necessary to hold bound materials open. Please ask for assistance when opening folded material bound into books. If pages are unopened, please alert the Special Collections Librarian before proceeding.
  5. Materials may not be handled in any manner likely to cause damage. Please do not lean upon, write on, erase, fold, or trace materials. Do not place anything on top of items.
  6. Readers may take photos without the use of a flash for research purposes only, with no extraordinary manipulation of the object for photography. Photocopying of Special Collections materials is not permitted.
  7. Please remain in the Marshall Room until the librarian has checked in all returned materials.

Requesting Photographs for Publication

Should you need an image from one of our books for publication, please refer to our Rights & Reproduction Policy, and contact the Special Collections Librarian. The researcher is responsible for obtaining permissions for use of any copyrighted material. Columbia University has a helpful guide to copyright law at http://copyright.columbia.edu.