Research & Access

Special Collections in Olin Library will be closed to the public until further notice, although we will still be filling requests and offering assistance as much as is feasible. Virtual outside requests may be submitted; however, we cannot guarantee that they can be filled during this time.

Planning Your Visit

Please select one of the following links to learn more about our current procedures:
Curbside Pickup
COVID-19 Updates and Resources
Remote Resources and Guidance for Users

Washington University Libraries’ Julian Edison Department of Special Collections is open to students, staff, faculty, and alumni of Washington University, as well as community members and outside researchers. We welcome researchers from both on campus and off. Special Collections’ main reading room is located in Olin Library (Level 1) at the center of the Danforth Campus where researchers, visitors, and classes can access a wide range of collections.

Using Archives: A Guide to Effective Research provides general suggestions about conducting research with Special Collections.

We encourage you to contact us before your visit as this helps us make sure materials are ready and available when you arrive.


Conducting Research at Special Collections – Policies, Procedures & Forms

Teaching & Learning – Class Visits

Requesting Reproductions

Licensing & Publication of Special Collections Materials




Danforth Campus

Special Collections’ main reading room is located in John M. Olin Library (Level 1) at the center of the Danforth Campus.

If using GPS navigation, the closest parking garage is the Danforth University Center (DUC) Garage and that is located at 6475 Forsyth Ave., St. Louis, MO 63130.

Directions and Parking Information – Danforth Campus

West Campus

The Modern Graphic History Library (MGHL), Film & Media Archive, and Preservation Unit are located at West Campus. Hours at West Campus by appointment only. Please contact us to arrange your visit. 

Directions and Parking Information – West Campus


Conducting Research at Special Collections – Policies Procedures & Forms

  • Materials Use Policies for Special Collections
  • Patron Information form – All researchers must complete a Patron Information Form before  (once an academic year).
  • Paging Request Form – Researchers can fill the Page Request Form to have materials retrieved from storage for use in the reading room.  As a general guideline you can request up to 6 boxes or books for each day you plan to visit.  Please contact the staff if you have extenuating circumstances regarding your visit (international travel, etc).
  • Reproduction Request Form – Researchers can fill out a Reproduction Request Form to request copies of collection materials (see below for more information)

To return forms electronically, please save your completed & signed form and email to  Forms can also be brought to the reading room when visiting, or returned by mail.

Forms are available as pdf files. You will need Adobe Acrobat to view the files. Download Adobe Acrobat.


Records Transfer Form (University Archives): For the transfer of material from the university office/department to University Archives


Teaching & Learning – Class Visits

The Department of Special Collections welcomes classes from all academic disciplines. The format is flexible: we encourage faculty or instructors to select the materials they would like to present in a classroom setting, or the Special Collections staff can assist in selecting and introducing materials.

Schedule a class visit

The Mendle Classroom, located adjacent to the reading room, can be configured to accommodate seminars, lecture-style presentations, or small groups at multiple study stations. We are happy to bring out materials for single class visits or to put them on reserve for consultation in the reading room during normal open hours.

To make arrangements for a class visit or other study opportunities, please contact us.

The classroom is heavily used, so be sure to reserve early. Provide your name, the name of the class, a desired date and time for your visit (with alternates if possible), the materials you’d like to have available, the approximate number of students, and whether you’ll require a computer/projector.  Our staff will confirm your visit details and room reservation by email.


Requesting Reproductions

To request copies of Special Collection materials, please complete and return as an email attachment these two forms: Patron Form and Request for Reproduction Form. After we receive your order someone on our staff will contact you regarding costs, time to delivery, and if there are any questions.

researcher reproductions

If condition and copyright restrictions allow, researchers can take their own photos without flash of material. Please check with staff before taking any photos.

A free, self-service scanner that can accommodate flat documents up to 8.5″ x 11″ (allowed for most materials) is available for use in the reading room.

Some reproductions can only be done by staff due to fragility, size, or format.

fees & payment

See the current fee schedule for standard reproduction requests. Researchers can request a quote before Special Collections staff begins work on their order.

Payment can be made by check, credit-card, or inter-departmental billing.  Pre-payment may be required.

  • Please make checks payable to “Washington University Libraries”
  • Credit card payments are accepted online via: after receiving an invoice number for your order.


Licensing & Publication of Special Collections Materials

publication permissions

If you plan to use images or other materials from Special Collections in any type of publication or media production, it may be necessary to obtain non-exclusive rights from the department. Examples include:

  • exhibition
  • film or television show
  • dramatic presentation
  • publication (book, article, newspaper, etc)
  • web site

Depending on the nature of you proposed use, we may charge a fee to use materials. Generally we will also provide you a form or agreement that should be signed.

For information about commercial and non-commercial use of materials, please contact us.

licensing materials

Licensing requests for materials where Special Collections is the copyright holder are considered on an individual basis. This includes material from the Film & Media Archive and other collections. For licensing requests where Special Collections is the copyright holder, please contact us directly for more information. For information about specific collections and their copyright status, please contact us.

third-party Rights holder

If the materials are not in the public domain, and the library does not hold the copyright, you will need to contact the current copyright holder to request permission. Special Collections does not hold rights to any material currently under copyright by a third-party, including stock footage or images, in its collections. Special Collections staff can assist researchers with locating information about the copyright holder(s), but it is the patron’s responsibility to clear rights with the appropriate parties.



Make A Gift

Special Collections is grateful for the support received through gifts and donations. If you are interested in making a gift of material to Special Collections, please contact a curator for more information.