RBSC Home Library Home Princeton University Home Search
Conducting Research
Department and Collections Conducting Research Catalogs, Databases, and Finding Aids Exhibitions New and Notable Visiting Fellowships
 
  Self-Guided Research Tutorial
  Getting Started
  Finding Sources
  Tips for Access and Use
 


Tips for Access and Use

What should I do before my visit?

Before coming to the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, whether at the Harvey S. Firestone Memorial Library or the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, you should explore our web site to determine if we have any material of interest to you. Please contact us if you require assistance at any point in this process. The tools you need to carry out your search can be found under Catalogs, Databases, and Finding Aids. The nature of your research will determine which of these tools you use, but the following examples may assist you in making your choice. Bear in mind that there is often more than one path to the information you are seeking.

  • John was looking for the personal papers of former Secretary of State Robert Lansing. By using the 'SEARCH' button at the upper right hand corner of RBSC website pages, he went to the Library search engine. Threre, he conducted a keyword search for Lansing's papers by entering his surname and limiting the search to "finding aids" and "document titles." The search retrieved one document, and when John clicked on it, the finding aid to the Robert Lansing Papers appeared. With an appraising eye, he reviewed the finding aid and swiftly identified three folders of "Confidential Memoranda and Notes" that had the potential to answer his questions. He noted the box and folder numbers (7: 2-4), as well as the collection number (MC 083), which indicated that the Lansing Papers are held at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library

  • Kristen was looking for first-hand accounts of the American Civil War. She went to Catalogs, Databases, and Finding Aids and, then, to the Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections Database (MASC). She conducted a subject search for her topic of interest by entering the Library of Congress subject heading "United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865" and selecting "Subject/Form" from the list of search options. The search retrieved 68 records, which Kristen was able to examine in greater detail by clicking on each record number. Record 10, the Civil War Correspondence of George B. Bacon, looked interesting, so she noted the collection number (C0383), which indicated that this correspondence is located in the Manuscripts Division of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections (located in the Harvey S. Firestone Memorial Library.

  • Fergus was looking for examples of senior theses written in his department. He went to Catalogs, Databases, and Finding Aids and, then, to the University Archives Databases. He clicked with confidence on "Senior Theses, 1926-present" and selected "Chemistry Department" from the list of search options. Wisely, he also restricted the search by entering the year 1999 under "Class." The search retrieved 39 records, which Fergus was able to examine in greater detail by clicking on the number to the left of each record. Thus he decided that Thesis No. 10566, "Engineering a GFP Fluorosensor of Peroxynitrite Activity", would be worth consulting, so he noted the thesis number. The search screen had already informed him that senior theses are held at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, home of the University Archives.

  • Eva wanted to study F. Scott Fitzgerald's relationship with his editors at Charles Scribner's Sons so she did an "author" search in MASC, using <fitzgerald, f>, which returned a superfluity of hits. By linking with the Boolean operator <and> she attached a "description" search, using <*Scribner's*> as a keyword, and was able to limit her hits to the relevant entries. As a master author index, MASC is designed to give folder-level, and even item-level, entries as well as collection descriptions, so an entry for the Fitzgerald Papers will capture Fitzgerald items that occur in other collections, such as the Archives of Charles Scribner's Sons.
Before visiting the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, you should also familiarize yourself with the Rules for the Use of Collections, as well as any other relevant information under Conducting Research. Knowing precisely what you want to examine and the policies and procedures that govern its use, will allow you to make the most of your time when you visit our reading rooms. If a personal visit is impractical, you can request photocopies of specific documents or images, subject to the guidelines set forth in Photoduplication Services. Our staff will send you a photoduplication order form, which you will need to sign and return with payment before your order can be processed.

What happens when I arrive at the Library?

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections maintains two reading rooms: one at the Harvey S. Firestone Memorial Library and one at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, which houses the Princeton University Archives and 20th century Public Policy Papers. While some rules vary, the following procedures are common to both locations. Please note that no appointment is needed to use our collections, though you may wish to call ahead if you would like to consult a particular curator.

  • On arrival, you will be asked to register, a short procedure involving the presentation of photo identification (e.g., a driver's license) and the completion of a registration form, which commits you to abide by the rules that govern our collections.

  • You will be asked to place your coat and/or bag in a locker. You can, however, bring paper and pencil and/or a laptop into our reading rooms, which are equipped with electrical outlets.

  • If you need assistance before beginning your research, a member of our staff will discuss your project with you and identify potential sources of information. We will also explain the procedure you should follow if you wish to photocopy material in our collections. Since researchers are not permitted to make their own photocopies, you will need to flag material of interest and record it on a photoduplication order form. The form must be signed and submitted with your payment before your order can be processed.

  • Having identified the material you wish to see, you will be asked to complete a call slip, allowing a member of our staff to page this material. We will be happy to help you complete this call slip, which should list the collection and the boxes, folders, or items within this collection that interest you.

  • Material is usually paged in a matter of minutes. You will be asked to sign your call slip to acknowledge receipt of this material.

  • If you wish to publish citations or images from our collections, you will need to request our permission beforehand. Information on this subject can be found in Rights and Permissions. Be sure to record the collection names and box and folder numbers from which your notes are taken, since these particulars will be needed when you formally cite our holdings.

  • Before you leave, feel free to share your findings, as well as any concerns or questions you may have, with a member of our staff. Our goal is to make your experience and that of the researchers who come after you as rewarding as possible.


PU home
2001 Princeton University Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, New Jersey 08544 USA
Department of Rare Books and Special Collections
Email: rbsc@princeton.edu 
Tel: (609) 258-3184
Fax: (609) 258-2324

Copyright infringement reports