University of Notre Dame


Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

Accessing Materials & Planning Your Visit

Hours and Location

The reading room for Rare Books & Special Collections is located in 102 Hesburgh Library, on the ground floor of the main campus library. The Reading Room is open Monday through Friday from 9:30am-4:30pm.

The 14th floor of Hesburgh Library is under renovation from May 20 to August 9. The Library Circle, East, and South Entrances will be blocked off intermittently during this time. See the logistics map for additional details.

Security and Coatroom

The Reading Room is located within a secure facility monitored by digital cameras. All readers are required to store jackets/coats, briefcases, backpacks, laptop cases, binders, folders, purses, food, drink and all other personal property not essential to their research in the Coatroom. 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 Coatroom.

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 a Reader Card (if necessary). The process takes about 15 minutes.

  • Faculty, students, and staff from the University of Notre Dame must present their university 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 if they will be using the Reading Room. The Reader Card does not expire, but may be terminated at any point at the discretion of the department.

Requesting Materials

Appointments are strongly recommended. Please contact Rare Books & Special Collections in advance for research and course support, and to assess the availability of their desired materials.

Call slips are available at the service desk (having the proper call number including the size designation or shelfmark ready will help expedite requests greatly). Those wishing to consult a large number of items should contact the relevant curator or archivist in advance of their visit.

Materials may be paged only between 9am and 4:30pm. Materials will be paged as quickly as possible, but patrons are encouraged to send their requests at least two business days in advance so that materials will be ready upon arrival. Materials that are held off-site will require advance notice to be delivered to the Reading Room.

University Archives has a detailed policy that governs access to collections. Access to archival manuscript collections is often governed by contract, and access to records from University offices is generally restricted for a 72-year period. The Access Policy for university records is available on the University Archives website.


All collections are non-circulating and must be consulted in the Reading Room. All non-essential items are prohibited in the Reading Room. Cell phones (on silent) are permitted, but calls may not be answered or made. Laptops and tablets may be used but sleeves and computer bags must be stored in a locker. All rare materials are collected at 4:45pm without exception.

If using archival or loose manuscript materials, it is vital that researchers use extreme care to preserve the original order of the materials. Only one box per researcher is allowed on the reading room table at a time.


Researchers wishing to use the same items or boxes in multiple sittings may place them on hold. 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. A maximum of five items or boxes per reader can be put on hold, or additional materials at the discretion of a curator or archivist.

Research Services

Rare Books & Special Collections staff will assist with research or reference requests pending time and availability. If you wish to commission someone to carry out research on your behalf, individual departments at the University of Notre Dame may be able to recommend researchers for hire. The Society of American Archivists also maintains a list of individuals who may be available for hire.

University Archives and Rare Books & Special Collections do not sponsor or endorse these individuals and will not be responsible for research arrangements, payments or results.

Permission to Publish

Researchers must secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce materials through the unit that holds the materials; contact either University Archives or Rare Books & Special Collections. The researcher assumes all responsibility for conforming with US copyright law.

Last Revised: 14 December 2023