Plan a Visit

The Special Collections reading room is open via walk-in and by appointment, Monday-Friday, from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm.

Review all information on the Special Collections Access page for changes to the availability of Special Collections materials and services, and for appointment request instructions.
See JMU Libraries’ Updates for information regarding access to all JMU Libraries locations and services.

JMU Special Collections materials and services are available to everyone.

Before You Arrive

Create a User Account

Visitors must first create a user account with the Special Collections Request System. Your user account is where you will make appointments and request materials. All Special Collections materials are for use on-site in the Special Collections reading room.
See spring 2023 access for details on requesting an appointment.


In order to park on JMU’s campus, a parking permit must be hung from the rear view mirror and may be obtained free of charge Monday-Friday 7:00 a.m – 5:00 p.m from JMU Parking and Transit Services, located in the ground-level office of the Champions Parking Deck. See Visitor Parking FAQs for additional information.
Recommended parking for visiting Carrier Library is within the Mason Street Parking Deck, accessed from the entrance on Mason Street. With a parking pass, visitors may park on levels 3-5. Level 2 offers short-term, (45 minutes maximum) metered parking, which does not require a permit.

Visiting the Special Collections Reading Room


The Special Collections Reading Room is located in room 203 on the second floor of Carrier Library near the Quad on the JMU campus.

What can I bring into the reading room?

Camera (with flash disabled)
Cellphone (set to silent or vibrate)
Laptop (without its sleeve or bag)
USB drive

Lockers are available for storing your other belongings that cannot come into the reading room with you, such as:

Bags, purses, and pouches
Drinks (including water bottles)
Lighting equipment

Reading Room Policies

Know we are here to answer questions about research, collections, and proper handling of materials.

  • Under no circumstances may researchers remove collection material from the reading room.
  • Researchers agree to handle all collections gently and carefully and to keep loose documents in the order they are found. Handle unique and rare materials with care. Keep them flat on your table or in cradles provided by staff.
  • Use one box and one folder at a time. Order is important in archival collections. Please maintain it.
  • When finished with an item, you can return it to staff at the reference desk and they will bring you another one.
  • Pencils, limited sheets of loose paper, laptop computers, mobile devices on silent settings, and digital cameras are allowed in the reading room. Store your backpacks, bags, and other bulky items in lockers or designated area.
  • All food and beverages (including water bottles) are prohibited.
  • Wash hands before beginning your research.
  • Special Collections staff may examine laptops, notes, and other items when researchers exit the reading room.
  • Researchers may use digital cameras for same-day copying of unrestricted collections. Other options (not same day) for copying may be available. Please consult with staff about other available reproduction services.
  • Personal identification information from the Special Collections Request System is kept for statistical and security purposes. JMU Libraries Special Collections will retain information collected from researchers indefinitely.

Making Copies of Collections Material

United States copyright law governs all reproductions:
The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of all reproductions of copyrighted material, regardless of who makes the reproductions. Libraries and archives are authorized to provide a photocopy or reproduction for private study, scholarship, or research. For collection materials that are not in the public domain in the United States, researchers may not modify, publish, transmit, participate in the transfer or sale of, reproduce except for teaching and scholarship, create new works from, distribute, publicly perform or display, or in any way exploit any of the content in whole or in part without the permission of the copyright holder. Researchers making use of any copies in excess of the “fair use” exception may be liable for copyright infringement.

Options during your research visit:

    • Use your camera or camera phone to snap digital images of materials. (See stipulations below)
    • Use the KIC Scanner located at the front of the reading room. This scanner allows you to email files to yourself or save the files to a USB drive.
    • For high-resolution scans (TIFF format) or requests for copies of audiovisual material, place a reproduction request through your user account in the Special Collections Request System. Your reproduction order will be delivered electronically following your research visit.

Stipulations governing researcher photography in the reading room:

    • Flashes must be disabled and special lighting may not be used.
    • Camera cases and other equipment are not permitted in the reading room.
    • Cameras may not be placed on top of or come in contact with collection material; hand-held scanners are not permitted.
    • All handling rules for special collections materials apply when photographing items.
    • Staff may refuse permission to photograph items due to their size or condition.

Remote digitization requests:

    • Place all digitization requests as reproduction orders from your user account with the Special Collections Request System.
    • Digitized materials will be delivered via your user account. You will receive an email notification when your reproduction order is complete; files will be available for download for 30 days before they are automatically deleted.
    • Note that turn-around time for digitization requests varies depending on demand and staff availability as well as the size and scope of your request, and may take 5 weeks or more to complete.
    • Note that requests for publication quality images (TIFF format) will require additional processing and time to complete.
    • Digitization requests are not meant to replace in-person research; requests that exceed up to one hour of staff time will be denied. Contact us at if you have questions prior to placing your request.

Remote Reference Questions

Researchers may email us reference questions about materials held by JMU Special Collections. Response times vary depending on demand and staff availability, and may take up to 5 weeks.
At this time, staff will spend up to one hour of research time and will make up to 50 low-resolution scans per researcher.

Email us at with the details of your reference question.

Class Visits and Instruction

Special Collections works with JMU faculty and staff to provide library instruction on finding and using primary sources in our holdings, as well as hands-on instruction experiences with rare books, manuscripts, and archives in our collections.

Special Collections is no longer accepting instruction requests for the spring 2023 semester.

Please contact with questions.