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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.