Guidelines for Using the Collection

Due to the rare and fragile nature of many of the materials in our collections, we request that patrons observe the following rules:


Please sign the visitor’s register with your name and address as you enter the department. Be sure to have your library card or a photo ID with you as you will need it to use most of the materials in our collections.


  • Briefcases, knapsacks, laptop cases and other bags must be checked in at the reference desk.

  • Only pencils or electronic devices are allowed for note taking. No pens please!

  • Personal photographs of our materials are allowed, but please complete a reproduction request form.

  • Eating and drinking are prohibited.

  • No talking on cell phones and please turn to vibrate.

Handling of materials

Many items are of a rare nature and are costly or irreplaceable, therefore all materials must be treated with special care. Please help us preserve our special collections for the future.

  • No materials may be removed from the department. An exception is made for microfilms, which may be taken to the Magazine and Newspaper Center for viewing/printing.

  • Do not turn opened books face down or fold down page corners.

  • Do not mark in books or trace over pictures or diagrams.

  • Do not lean or write on top of materials.

Requesting materials

  • One piece of picture identification or library card will be held at the reference desk while the materials requested are in use.

  • Most of our materials are located in closed areas.

  • Call slips, available at the reference desk, must be filled out to request materials.

  • The number of items requested at one time may be limited at the librarian's discretion.

  • Note: Some materials requested from remote storage can only be made available the next day.


  • Reproduction from any of our materials is at the discretion of the librarian.

  • Special restrictions may apply to many of our materials, including newspapers, manuscripts, photographs, fragile items, and oversize volumes.

  • Photocopy/Scan Request forms are available online and at the reference desk.

  • Photocopy and scan requests are limited to 50 copies per day.
  • Prepayment is required for all photocopy and scan orders.
    • B&W photocopy / 10¢ per page 
    • Color photocopy / 40¢ per page 
    • PDF scan / 10¢ per page
    • Fee for mailing / $1.00
  • Copy orders are done at 4pm daily; orders placed after 4pm will be ready for pickup the following afternoon. Copy orders should be turned in at the reference desk at least 15 minutes before closing.

  • Patrons may make their own reproductions using their own camera equipment under certain circumstances.

  • Patrons should complete a Photocopy/Scan Request form when photographing from textual collections, and should complete a Reproduction of Images form when copying from photograph collections. For further information on the Center’s photograph collections and reproduction of images, see the Order Images section.


  • The Photograph Collection has restricted hours.

  • Special guidelines for use of the collection are available at the reference desk. For more information call 415-557-4567 or go to

Audiovisual materials

  • All reference A/V materials in the collection should be used on library equipment only, not on patron devices.

  • Only department materials can be played in our A/V room.