Michigan State University

Visiting Michigan State University Libraries Special Collections

Reading Room Privileges & Rules

MSU Special Collections exists to preserve the heritage of the past and acquire important records of contemporary culture while making these materials available for use. The following rules are not devised to impede the use of materials, but rather to guarantee their preservation and orderly administration. We ask our readers to share our concern to conserve these resources by observing our regulations governing their use.

Access to Special Collection Materials

Special Collections is open to the public and materials may be used by Michigan State University students, faculty, staff, visiting researchers, and members of the community. Users will need to provide a currently valid MSU photograph ID or a government-issued ID or driver's license.

Special Collections stack areas are closed to the public. After creating a research account and submitting requests through the online Registration and Request System, a staff member will retrieve the materials for use.

Material may be used in the reading room only and should be returned to the reading room desk when finished.

General Guidelines

  • Please store coats, briefcases, backpacks, and other paraphernalia in space provided. Only materials such as paper, pencils, and laptop computers needed for note-taking may be taken to the reading tables.
  • Talking on cell phones is not permitted in the reading room.
  • Food and beverages are not permitted in the reading room.
  • The use of pens is not allowed in the reading room.

Handling of Materials

Materials are to be handled carefully:

  • Notebooks should not be placed on top of materials.
  • Care should be taken not to lean on the materials. 
  • Tracing or notes of any kind are not to be made by placing paper on top of materials and no marks should be added or erased from Special Collections materials.
  • Pages should be turned gently.
  • Please maintain the order and arrangement within archival folders.


Special Collections provides the following services. If you have further questions, please contact the Special Collections reading room during our normal hours.

Non-flash digital cameras and personal scanners are permitted in the Special Collections reading room for patrons who wish to make copies for personal scholarly use.

Requesting Digital Scans

Digital scans (PDFs) for MSU affiliates

MSU students, faculty, and staff seeking digital scans should submit their request(s) through the MSU Article Retrieval Service (MARS). The default scan is a 300 dpi PDF. The file will be uploaded directly the patron’s ILLiad account and typically takes two to three days. There is no charge for MSU affiliates.

Digital scans (PDFs) for non-affiliates

Those not affiliated with MSU are advised to contact a local public or research library and its interlibrary loan program, which may refer a request to MSU Libraries InterLibrary Services on the patron’s behalf. The scan provided would be a 300 dpi PDF. Regular ILL service fees cover the cost of scanning.

Requesting High-resolution TIFFs

Patrons may request high-resolution, publication-quality TIFFs by completing a copy request form through their special collections online account. Requests are filled by the Digital Media Center and normal turnaround time is 24-48 hours, though large and complex orders may take longer. Scanning is done in 24-bit color at 300 dpi, or higher if requested. All files are saved to a CD or can be picked up through a digital drop box.

There is no charge for MSU affiliates. For non-affiliates, the standard cost is $25 for setup plus $1 per image.

Notice warning concerning copyright restrictions 

The copyright law of the United States (title 17 U.S. code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specific conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.” 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. This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would violate copyright law.

Directions and Housing

To find information on getting to the MSU Libraries, go to the MSU Libraries page on Address & Visiting. There is information on parking, link to a campus map, and floor plans for all the floors of the main building.

The Special Collections reading room is located on the first floor. Researchers requiring special accommodations are encouraged to contact us prior to their visit.  Handicapped parking is available in the parking lot immediately by the Library building, with a wheelchair accessible ramp in the South entrance.

The following are links to information regarding lodging possibilities during your visit to MSU.   They are listed from lowest cost to highest.

  • Owen Hall, a graduate dormitory which is about a 10-15 minute walk from the Main Library.  Contact Conference Services at (517) 353-9300 or deststconf@rhs.msu.edufor further information.
  • Live On, Residence Education Housing Services, provides information about additional possibilities for staying on campus
  • Kellogg Center, this is an on-campus hotel/conference center with in-house restaurants.  Walking time to the library would be again about 10-15 minutes.
  • MSU Recommended Local Hotels and Inns,  this is a list of nearby hotels and inns with prices and information about shuttle service.