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Visiting Special Collections

Special Collections at the Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery

Visiting Special Collections

Please watch this video, or scroll below to see a text version, to learn about what to expect when visiting Special Collections. Many of our policies are similar to other special collection and archival repositories. Our department is open to the public - you do not need to be affiliated with UMBC! 

Please use one of the methods below to contact the department staff:

  • chat (select "Ask a Librarian" button on the right side of any webpage)
  • e-mail (
  • voicemail (410-455-2353)
  • online research consultation with an archivist (schedule a consultation here).

Text overview

The Special Collections reading room is located on the first floor of the Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery, in the back of the Gallery. Because of the nature of the collections, the reading room is considered a secure area, and the materials are not in circulation. All materials must be used in the reading room. To ensure the safety and longevity of these items we have a few guidelines to assist researchers and protect our archives.

All coats, umbrellas, backpacks, and briefcases should be left at the entrance table. No food, drinks, or pens are allowed in Special Collections or near the materials. You may have your laptop, pencils, papers, cell phone, and camera. Our staff are happy to provide you with pencils, scrap paper, or an extension cord, and we can show you how to use the researcher scanner (free of charge).

Next, you will sign in at the desk and be greeted by a staff member. If this is your first time visiting then you will need to complete a registration form; you will also need to show a photo i.d. This is a one time process and the next time that you visit you will only need to sign-in.

Special Collections staff and student assistants are knowledgeable about the collections and will happily assist you in beginning your research. You can come in during regular open hours, you can arrange an appointment with a librarian, or you can e-mail for assistance. If you already know what materials you would like to work with, call or e-mail ahead of time and the materials will be pulled and waiting for you. There are several storage locations in the Library, so sometimes it can take 5-10 minutes to pull the requested items.

The stacks in Special Collections are "closed stacks" which means they are not open for browsing like the main Library stacks. You can search the collections  using the dedicated Special Collections Search, using the main Library catalog, or by browsing the website. There are also digital collections available.