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Special Collections & Archives Student Assistant Guide: Registering & Monitoring Users

A helpful guide for student assistants working in Special Collections.

Registering Researchers

How to handle a Researcher's visit. 

1. Find out the purpose of the researcher's visit. 

  • Ask if they have visited before (registration forms are kept on file for the duration of the fiscal year) and give them a summary of what to expect if they haven't visited before. Explain the registration process, how much time it can take (many people only stop in when they have a free 5 minutes), and how the reading room operates. 

2. Put their stuff in lockers. 

  • If they decide to look at materials, ask them to place their belongings in a locker. All food & drink go in the gallery. They may keep their cell phone, laptop, pencil & ID. No notebooks, pens, loose paper, or bags. We provide pink notepads for note taking.  

3. Fill out Researcher Registration Form. 

  • Ask a new researcher to read the regulations on the registration form, fill it out, and sign it.  and make sure they show their ID, fill it out correctly, and sign it. Ask if they anticipate taking photos of documents or if they will request duplication services. They will need to fill out a duplication form. Go over our camera policy and provide a citation photo slip. If two people are working together, both should complete forms. Instruct researchers on how to request materials (collection, box number). As they are filling it out, go over the reading room rules and how materials should be handled. 

4. Requesting & retrieving materials. 

  • Fill out an "Out" card with the information for a student assistant in the stacks to retrieve the requested material. Verify that the student knows where to find the item. If not, find someone who does know where the item is. Make sure all information is crossed out, except for the current request. The registration form stays at the front desk. The researcher must come to the desk, list items as they request them, and date the registration form. Make sure to initial on the line next to each request.  

5. Seat the researcher & bring out materials. 

  • If possible, seat them so they face you. After listing the requested materials on the registration form, ask them what box/material they would like to start with. Bring that box/material to their table. Researchers should not retrieve boxes from the desk or holds shelf. When they are done with a specific box, you retrieve the box, put your initial on the registration form, and take another box to their table. 

6. Only ONE box, book, folder at a time. 

  • Researchers can only have ONE box at a time, and ONE folder out at a time. They CANNOT spread the materials out on the table or pull out multiple folders. Researchers cannot put the papers out of order, they must turn each page like a book. Security is our #1 priority and having a neat and orderly table ensures that we can monitor the materials. 

7. End of researcher visit.

  • When the researcher is done looking through materials ask if they will be returning. File the registration form in the Returning Researcher or the To Be Filed Folder. File the Duplication Form in either Camera/No Payment or the Payment Made folder. Make sure they retrieve their belongings from the lock and return any borrowed materials (pink notepad, citation photo slip).

​8. Thank them for coming!

  • Ask them if they will be returning and if any further boxes need to be pulled before their next visit. Fill out a pink HOLD slip if they want to put items on hold. Return any finished materials to the RETURN cart. Thank them for visiting Special Collections & Archives & tell them to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, & Instagram for photos & event information!

Monitoring Materials

  • Researchers may only receive one box or book at a time. 
  • Researchers may use only one folder at a time out of a box. (If two researchers are working together at a table, they should only consult a single folder from a single box at a time.)
  • Researchers should place and use collection material on top of the table, not on the floor or a chair, or on their lap. 
  • A folder of archives or manuscripts must be laid flat on the table with the contents always within it. Pages should be turned like a book and kept in their original order.  
  • Researchers may not write or mark on, or otherwise damage any of the material.  Researchers may not place personal papers or objects on top of or beneath archival materials. 
  • Keep all researchers in sight at all times. Seat them so they face you and keep all archival materials in sight.
  • Gloves must be worn whenever handling any photos or artifacts. Know when these materials have been requested and always provide gloves to the researcher. Use your discretion in requesting them to use gloves for other items.
  • Licking fingers to turn pages is not permitted.
  • If a preservation question arises, contact the archivist for that collection, or the department head or assistant head.  
  • If a researcher fails to comply with instructions or otherwise causes a disturbance, inform the department head.
  • The reading room is well configured for three researchers and can accommodate up to six. If the room is becoming crowded (for example, because students in a class were assigned Special Collections research and their projects are due), consult colleagues to see if researchers can be proctored elsewhere in the department.