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Reading Room Research Procedures

  • Space in the reading room is limited to four researchers at a time. Making a research appointment is highly recommended. 
  • Researchers must sign in at the registration desk and request materials to be used in the Reading Room.
  • Researchers should review the library catalog and / or Archival Finding Aid database prior to visiting to determine what materials to request. See our Research Guide for more information.
  • Materials in the Special Collections & University Archives do not circulate and may not be removed from the Reading Room without permission.
  • Smoking is prohibited in the building as well as in the Reading Room. 
  • Food, beverages, or other foodstuffs and consumables are likewise prohibited.
  • Notes must be taken in pencil, or on laptop or personal device.  No ballpoint, fountain, or felt-tipped pens may be used.
  • Handle materials with care.  Researchers may not mark or write upon any items, nor place paper on which they are writing on any of the materials being consulted.  At the staff’s discretion, the researcher may be requested to wear cotton gloves before using any materials.
  • Books must be kept flat on the table during use and their pages carefully turned. Book weights may be requested to help hold pages open. 
  • The exact order and arrangement of the materials must be preserved.  If any mistake in arrangement or any damage is discovered, please advise staff.
  • The photocopying or digital scanning of a reasonable amount of materials is allowed, subject to restrictions regarding copyright, fragility of the items, or those imposed by the donor.  Photocopies or scans thus supplied may not be duplicated or deposited elsewhere without prior written authorization of the staff. Request for photocopies are made to the staff. See Copies and Scans
  • The researcher is cautioned that the Special Collections & University Archives is not normally the owner of copyrights to books, papers, and manuscripts deposited therein.  The researcher is responsible for securing permission to quote and publish from the original writer/creator, or his/her heirs.  As a condition for use, the researcher assumes full responsibility for any infringement of literary, copyright, or publications rights belonging to the author, her/his heirs, or assigns. See Citations and Copyright
  • By signing the Application for Use of Material form provided as a sign-in sheet and materials order form, the user acknowledges his/her acceptance of the above regulations.

Please note, at this time all visitors and staff members must wear a mask while in the Reading Room. 

Collection Development

Special Collections

Materials in Special Collections help support the university curricula and research interests of faculty, staff, and students, as well as those outside the university. The rare books, manuscripts, documents, and artwork collected supplement and enhance resources available in GVSU Libraries. The collections are international in scope with particular focus on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War; Michigan in the novel; regional literature, history and culture; and history of the book and printing arts.

Read the full Special Collections & University Archives Collection Development Policy

University Archives

The Grand Valley State University Archives is the repository for official and ancillary records created by the University's administration, academic departments, faculty, students, and campus organizations. The Archives collects records that document and support the University's mission to contribute to the enrichment of society through excellent teaching, active scholarship, and public service. It exists to help meet the University's legal responsibility to preserve and make available its records and to assist the University community to document its actions and decisions.

Selection and Donations

Materials acquired through purchase, transfer, or donation are evaluated by an archivist or curator prior to their accession. The informational contents, condition, format, completeness, and research value of materials are carefully considered, with particular attention to how the materials fit into the scope of our collections.

Occasionally, donors or other community members may request a monetary appraisal of materials by which the repository might benefit. Special Collections & University Libraries' staff is prohibited from offering a monetary appraisal. See more info in Appraisal.

If you have materials that you would like to donate to Special Collections & University Archives, or questions about the donation process, please contact us. A Special Collections & University Archives director or archivist will review the contents and condition of the materials before accepting the donation. Donors must sign a Deed of Gift transferring ownership of the materials to the university. 

Permission to Publish

Permission to Publish

As owners of the physical materials in its collections, Special Collections & University Archives reserves the right to grant permission to publish materials in its holdings. A written request for permission to publish must be made in advance to the Head of Special Collections. Use the PDF form linked above for this request. You may return the form by mail at the address given, or as an email attachment to Leigh Rupinski, Archivist for Public Services and Community Engagement at [email protected].

Except for brief excerpts, material under copyright cannot be duplicated without the written permission of the copyright owner. The full responsibility for infringement is assumed by the individual requesting permission to publish. Unless specifically stated, Grand Valley State University does not claim ownership of the copyright on any of the materials in Special Collections.

Manuscript materials used in research are to be cited in any resulting papers or publications.

Use fees may be charged for commercial publication at the discretion of Special Collections & University Archives.

See also Copyright Basics.

Digital Preservation

Grand Valley State University is committed to the long-term preservation of digital materials collected by the University Libraries. GVSU defines digital preservation as a series of managed activities necessary to ensure continued access to digital materials for as long as necessary. This work is an outgrowth of GVSU's dedication to providing students, faculty, staff, and scholars at-large with access to resources to enrich their teaching, learning, scholarly, creative, and administrative activities. GVSU Libraries considers digital preservation an essential investment in its broader work of collection building and preservation of its institutional history.

Priority for digital preservation services will be given to materials acquired or created by Special Collections & University Archives and ScholarWorks@GVSU. As resources permit and the University or Libraries administration mandate, digital preservation services may be extended to support other partners, projects or initiatives. GVSU Libraries endeavors at a minimum to preserve access to any donated, acquired, or created digital materials in their original file formats. The Libraries will then make a "good-faith effort" (but cannot guarantee) to provide ongoing systematic access to those same digital materials in more preferred or widely supported file formats.

GVSU Libraries will make every effort to ensure that preserved digital collections are discoverable, but not all preserved resources will necessarily be available immediately or available online. There may be cases where some or all information related to digital material may be restricted/redacted, embargoed, or have other special rights-driven requirements for access. Finally, the work of preserving any given digital content at the present moment does not necessarily guarantee ongoing future access—something altogether dependent upon unanticipated changes in technologies, their availability, as well as policies on disposition. 

Read the full GVSU Libraries Digital Preservation Policy


Special Collections and University Archives does not authenticate, provide evaluation, or otherwise provide a professional assessment or certification of any rare material being offered for sale or donation. Staff is prohibited from offering a monetary appraisal. 

We have curated a short list of resources that may be useful. If you wish to find an appraiser, we recommend using one of the listed Associations. Members of these Associations are all required to adhere to a strong code of ethics.


Page last modified March 8, 2023