Access and Policies

Most collections are stored offsite and need to be retrieved for your research visit. To begin the request process, researchers should request boxes via the Special Collections Request System (Aeon) at least seven business days before visiting. Please check your Aeon account to confirm that the item is ready for your use before visiting our Reading Room.

Groups of four or more researchers should contact Special Collections to book a specific research appointment time.

The Department is open to the public 10 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. Patrons should consult the staff member at the Department’s reference desk concerning the availability of collections and the procedures for consulting and requesting materials. Catalogs, finding aids, indexes, and bibliographies listing books collections, manuscript materials, pamphlets, photographs, ephemera, and other materials are available.


Rules concerning patron use are designed to protect the materials and assure that they will always be available. The materials may be used only in the Department’s reading room under the supervision of Special Collections staff. Staff will go over the proper care and handling of materials in the reading room. We encourage you to review Harvard Library’s 10 Tips for Reading Room Success in advance of your visit.

  • No ink may be used in the reading room, pencils are provided upon request.
  • All containers, including purses, handbags, briefcases, backpacks, large envelopes, and folders with pockets must be placed in lockers provided at the reading room entrance.
  • Smoking, eating, and drinking are prohibited in the reading room.
  • There is no self-service copying; patrons may arrange for copies to be made of Special Collections material subject to copyright, donor restrictions, and the effect of copying on the original item.
  • Special Collections allows the use of digital cameras in the Reading Room.

Manuscripts are here defined as drafts of published or unpublished literary works, letters, journals, diaries, and other creative works. Manuscripts, published or unpublished, are fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States. While the University of California is the owner of the physical manuscripts in its holdings and controls access to them, literary rights in most cases still resides with the author/creator or his/her estate and publication, in any form, of these materials may not occur without the permission of the author or the author’s estate.

  • Permission to Examine

All researchers wishing to use manuscripts will be required to register as a patron in the Special Collections Request System (Aeon) giving full information about the subject, scope, and purpose of the research being undertaken. Researchers working on-site must show current photo identification. As part of its research and educational mission, the Library routinely grants permission to examine its Special Collection manuscripts holdings to qualified researchers, however this use is subject to whatever restrictions that may have been placed on the manuscripts by the donors or by the Library itself.

  • Reproduction

Many of the materials in Special Collections are in copyright and so fall under applicable U.S. copyright law. When that is the case, all reproductions (of whatever nature) are provided for the researcher’s individual scholarly use only. Title 17, United States Code, governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted materials. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship or research.”

The researcher must fill out a request in the Special Collections Request System (Aeon) listing all items for which a photocopy is requested. The form will include a statement specifying that the researcher agrees to not publish, or otherwise reproduce, the material in any form without the permission of the author or the copyright holder, as regulated under US copyright law. The Department reserves the right to deny requests for reproductions if the material is determined to be too fragile to copy, or if in its judgment the copying would involve violation of copyright law.

If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use,” that user may be liable for copyright infringement. It is the legal responsibility of the researcher to secure permission to publish, not only from the institution having custody of the manuscripts, but also from the owner of copyright.

  • Reproduction Policies

For photocopy requests from collections that are 1-5 linear feet, approved requests are limited to 50 pages from a specific manuscript collection.

For photocopy requests from collections that are larger than 5 linear feet, approved requests are limited to 100 pages from a specific manuscript collection.

  • Publication

By granting permission to examine holdings, or by supplying a reproduction, the Library is not authorizing publication. The researcher must obtain permission to publish texts or facsimiles from the owner of the copyright, typically the author/creator, or the heirs to his or her estate. The users of materials with the department’s holdings are responsible for respecting the rights of authors/creators or their estates.

The researcher is responsible for securing the permission of both the Special Collection Department and the author/copyright holder before publishing or reproducing in any material for which University of California, Davis has physical ownership. If the researcher wishes to publish material from the department’s holdings, he/she will need to fill out a Special Collections Department Permission to Use (Publish) Form (found at our Duplication Services page or through Aeon), and they must secure the author’s/copyright holder’s permission or otherwise satisfied the requirements of copyright law.

  • Citation

Researchers publishing texts or facsimiles from our holdings should cite Special Collections, UC Davis Library. As soon as the work is published, the researcher is requested to provide the Special Collections Department with a copy of any publication (excepting dissertations and theses) that relies heavily on the department’s holdings.

Privacy Policy

It is policy of the Special Collections Department of the University of California, Davis University Library to not collect personal and private information, as defined below. However, in large unexamined collections and unprocessed boxes of materials personal and private information may exist.

In such a case, the Head of the Special Collections department and designated staff may withhold access to these materials or limit what can be copied (personally or mechanically). The Library will attempt to inform the researcher as to the type of information without divulging details.

Restricted Information:
Information to which use is restricted by federal or state law or University or campus policy; or information that is designated as protected from general access or modification, even if such access may not be prohibited by federal or state law or University or campus policy. Types of restricted information include, but are not limited to, information that identifies or describes an individual and information to which unauthorized access, modification, or loss could seriously or adversely affect an individual, UC Davis, its partners, or the public.

Under the “one University one Library” policy, the University of California Davis Department of Special Collections and Interlibrary Loan Department participate in a program to lend special collections materials between the UC special collections departments for the use of UC students and faculty.

Requests are made via the UC interlibrary loan request system. Materials loaned (non-manuscript materials in the form of books, pamphlets, serials, and microform) are carefully considered through a curatorial review process by the head of special collections. Requests may be filled by the provision of facsimile copies.

Loaned materials are made available for use under the careful oversight of the special collections staff under regular special collections reading room rules at the requesting or borrowing library.

Requests will be considered if they can be met without damaging and/or endangering rare and unique materials. Each request will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine the rarity and condition of the item. Whenever possible, it is recommended that patrons check with their reference or interlibrary loan department staff for assistance in locating alternate editions or works that may be more readily accessible for loan and check out without the restrictions required for special collections material.

For further information regarding this program contact UC interlibrary loan or special collections departments.