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 handled, used 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 remotely use the Annex Request Form for these items or ask Hollings Library staff to request items for them during their visit.


Using the Collections

Researchers and other visitors should also be aware of the general policies of the Hollings Library, including the prohibition on bringing in 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.

The complete set of Hollings Library forms are located here.


Local Information

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

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

Columbia Departments Campus Libraries
Columbia Libraries and Collections