- Readers must sign the register each time they use the Rare Book and Manuscript Reading Room. Mercantile Library members should include their member number when signing; non-members must provide a Student ID number or driver license number. By signing the register, the reader indicates an understanding of the rules for the use of research collections and a willingness to abide by them.
- Readers wishing to use rare and non-circulating books from the closed stacks must fill out call slips for each item.
- Special collection materials are available to qualified researchers except where specifically limited by contractual restrictions, physical condition of material, and the realistic needs of the researcher.
- Unprocessed manuscript collections normally are unavailable unless specific requests are made in writing and approved by authorized staff well in advance of a visit.
- All purses, bags, book bags, briefcases, and other containers must be checked-in and stowed in the lockers provided. Tablets and ring binders are also not allowed in the room (paper suitable for note taking will be supplied to readers). Personal identification cards will be held as deposit for lock and key.
- All coats, umbrellas and other raiment must be hung on the coat rack in the reading room or placed in the locker.
- Pencils only should be used in the reading room. Readers will not write on Library materials or on anything placed on top of Library materials. Word processors are permitted in the Reading Room; please note that the Mercantile Library will not be responsible for loss of information under any circumstances.
- No smoking, eating or drinking is permitted in the Reading Room.
- In general, a reader's work should be confined to one table only.
- Only one book, archival folder, clippings or photograph envelope is permitted on a study desk at a time. Multiple books, boxes, or clippings envelopes may be placed at the head of the reference room on top of the table provided for this purpose.
- The staff member on duty will normally limit the amount of rare books or other research materials and manuscripts that a researcher will be able to consult at any given time.
- Unmicrofilmed historic newspapers are available only after all other avenues of research are exhausted due in many instances, to extreme fragility. Staff will assist with fragile items such as turning delicate pages and unfolding brittle maps.
- All photocopying is done by reading room staff; see staff for prices and procedures.
- Readers must use particular care in handling materials due to value and fragility. All damages discovered during use should be reported and noted at each usage. Items too fragile for use or photocopying are identified at the discretion of library staff and their use is prohibited. Patrons should use book cradles and page supports whenever possible. Readers should not hold material on their laps or off of the table.
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