University of Notre Dame


Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

Accessing Materials & Planning Your Visit

Hours and Location

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections is located in 102 Hesburgh Library. The Reading Room is open Monday through Friday from 9am-5pm.

Security and Cloakroom

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections is a secure facility. All readers are required to store jackets/coats, briefcases, backpacks, laptop cases, purses, food, drink and all other personal property not essential to their research in the Cloakroom. The lockers provided are secure and free of charge. Readers will be granted entry to the Reading Room only after they have deposited non-research items in the Cloakroom.

Registration and Reader Cards

There is a brief registration process for first time readers, which includes the creation of the patron record, a reference interview, and issuing of the Reader Card (if necessary). The process takes about 15 minutes.

Faculty, students, and staff from the University of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College, and Holy Cross College must present their university/collage ID card, which functions as both their photo ID and Reader Card.

All other readers must present a valid photo ID with their current address, and proof of institutional affiliation (if claimed). Patrons will be issued a Reader Card free of charge. The Reader Card does not expire, but may be terminated at any point at the discretion of the Department.

Requesting Materials

Appointments are not required, but readers are advised to contact the Department in advance to ensure the availability of their desired materials. A maximum of five items may be paged per request. Call slips are available at the service desk (having the proper call number or shelfmark ready will help expedite requests greatly). Those wishing to consult a large number of items must obtain permission from the relevant curator.

Materials may be paged only between 9am-11:30am and 1pm-4:30pm. Most requests will be available within one hour, vault items within three hours. New requests will not be processed between 11:30am-1pm. Readers are encouraged to send their requests 1-2 days in advance so the materials will be ready upon arrival.


All collections are non-circulating and must be consulted in the Department’s Reading Room. Cell phone use, tobacco, food, beverages, ink, personal cameras, scanners and photocopiers are prohibited in the Reading Room. All rare materials are collected at the end of each day at 4:45pm without exception.


Researchers wishing to use the same materials in multiple sittings may place them on hold temporarily. Materials will only be held for one calendar week. Held materials are not considered a new request, and thus can be delivered at any point during normal hours. Only a maximum of five materials per reader can be held.

7 May 2013