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University Libraries - Using the Collections


Hours and Location

Materials preserved in the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections are made available for study in the Smith Reading Room during regular department hours (Monday – Friday, 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM, except major holidays).

Registering as a Researcher

For the first visit each academic year, researchers need to register with the department and provide a picture ID (academic identification, driver’s license, or passport). The registration form describes the special conditions under which Irvin Department materials may be used and/or copied.

Item Requests

Researchers request items by completing individual call slips for each item, which will then be brought to the Smith Reading Room for supervised use. Descriptions of items are available in the libraries’ online catalog and through finding aids.

Some materials in the department’s care are housed offsite in remote storage and may need to be recalled 1 day in advance of use. These items generally appear in the library catalog as: “Columbia Annex: Ask at Rare Books& Special Collections, Thomas Cooper Library (Library Use Only).”

Researchers can request materials from the Irvin Department stacks and/or Irvin Department materials from the Annex in advance of their visit by emailing

Using the Collections

Researchers and other visitors should also be aware of the general policies of the Hollings Library, including the prohibition on food and drink. Only pencils, paper, laptops, and cameras are generally allowed in the Smith Reading Room. Self-service lockers are available for securely storing coats, purses, bags, and other personal items.

Researchers not connected with the University, or travelling from a distance, are asked to contact the department (at ahead of their visit to ensure that the needed items and relevant staff help is available when they arrive.


Local Information

For information on visiting the campus, maps, visitorparking, local accomodations, and travel to Columbia, see:

The closest parking to the Hollings Library is eitheron-street metered parking or hourly ticketed parking in the adjacent BullStreet Parking Garage. See for a map and directions.