University of Southern California

Rare Book Room Visiting Guidelines

Norris Medical Library welcomes patrons and visiting scholars to come research using our special collections. Although advanced appointments are not required, appointments can be made by filling out this form. Advance appointments can help insure that an attending librarian will be available and that requested materials can be pulled in advance for your convenience.

You will be asked to sign into our guestbook for statistical and collections development purposes. Please provide your name, email, and institutional affiliation (if applicable). Signing of the guestbook constitutes agreement with our rare book room policies listed below, which are also pasted on the inside flap of the guestbook.

Personal items including backpacks, briefcases, laptop cases, and coats will be kept in the corner of the rare book room away from the study area. No food or drink is permitted in the reading room.

Reproductions and photos of collection items are permitted under certain circumstances, upon completion of this form and approval of library staff.

Tips for Rare Books Handling
Please help to protect our materials and maintain their condition by observing the following conservation guidelines:

  • Wash and dry hands immediately before entering the rare book room.
  • Use material on a table, keeping the book in the foam book cradle provided by the attending librarian. The cradles are designed to prevent stress to all parts of the book.
  • To turn a page of a book, lift the top outer corner and supporting the page as you turn.
  • Do not use staples, adhesive tape, post-its, metal paper clips, ink, thick marking strips or other non-archival material. For note taking, use pencil only. Acid free bookmarks will be provided when needed.
  • If you notice a tear, mark, of evidence of any kind of damage to the material, notify the attending librarian. Do not add or remove marks from the material or attempt any repairs yourself.
  • Do not rest anything on top of books. Special page weights are available from the attending librarian. Avoid piling books on top of one another.
  • Illustrations, letters, and other sheets that fold out or are tipped into books may require special handling procedures or materials. Avoid touching the surface of pages with writing or painted or gold leaf illustrations. Especially on vellum, ink can chip or be rubbed off. Turn pages only at their outer edges.
  • Be aware of the condition of the books you are handling. Even new-looking books can be at risk. Do not force open books with tight bindings or that feel fragile. Also occasionally readers may encounter unopened pages (where the folds in the quires have not been cut, preventing the turning of single pages). Do not open pages fragile or uncut pages yourself.  The attending librarian will assist.
Revised 12/1/09

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