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© 2016 GW Libraries & Academic Innovation
Estelle and Melvin Gelman LibraryEckles Library at the Mount Vernon CampusVirginia Science and Technology Campus Library

Collections Use Policy

The Special Collections Research Center and its collections are open to the GW community, external researchers and the public. We ask that all researchers review and agree to observe this list of guidelines before using materials. 


  • All researchers will register, providing a name and contact information.  A valid photo ID is required to verify identity.
  • Signing the registration card constitutes agreement to follow all rules.

General rules

  • No food or drinks of any kind are allowed within the Special Collections registration area or the reading room, regardless of their container.
  • Coats and bags of any kind (including purses) are to be left in a locker.  They are not allowed in the reading room.
  • Only pencils will be used when in the presence of Special Collections materials.
  • Researchers are permitted to use personal laptops.
  • Materials may not be removed from the public area of Special Collections except by Special Collections staff.
  • Talking, including the use of cell phones, is prohibited in the reading room.

Handling of books

  • Books housed in protective boxes should be completely removed from the box before use.
  • Books and all bound volumes--regardless of age-- should be placed in the foam book cradles available in the reading room in order to protect the spines. 
  • Book weights are available to assist readers in keeping pages open. Some books cannot be opened all the way.
  • If you are uncertain about proper handling of rare materials please ask the desk attendant for help. 

Handling of manuscript materials

  • Manuscript boxes should be kept on a cart at the front of the room.  A researcher should only have one box at his/her table at a time.
  • Folders should be removed from boxes one at a time.  They should be replaced with "Out" cards to make sure they stay in order.
  • Pages that a researcher would like to mark (for photocopying, etc.) can be marked with paper strips kept at the registration desk.

Reproduction of materials

  • Requests for reproductions must be approved by Special Collections staff.  Permission may be denied due to copyright restrictions or the condition of the materials.
  • In general, reproductions of materials will be handled by Special Collections staff. However, researchers are allowed to take images of materials using digital, video or film cameras, as long as no flash or other extra lighting is used. Special Collections reserves the right to regulate or prohibit researchers' photography in order to protect materials.
  • Researchers are prohibited from using all models of scanners, whether flatbed or personal/portable/handheld.  
  • Pages that a researcher would like to mark (for scanning etc.) can be marked with acid-free paper strips kept at the registration desk.  Pages should not be folded, turned, or taken out of order.   Post-it notes, paper clips, or other fasteners should not be attached to materials.
  • See more information on our Copies and Reproductions page. 
This page is maintained by SCRC • (202) 994-7549