Harvard-Yenching Library

Using the Rare Book Reading Room


Hours and Location

The Rare Book Reading Room is open 9:30 am to 12:00 pm; 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm Monday through Friday.

The Rare Book Reading Room is located in the third floor of the Library.

All patrons wishing to use the library’s special collections materials must register for a Special Collections Request Account and place requests through the system.  Patrons who are not currently affiliated with Harvard University or who do not hold a Special Borrower Card will need to visit the Library Privileges Office at Widener Library after registering online to obtain a Harvard College Library Special Collections Card. Patrons are required to present a valid Harvard ID, HCL Special Borrower Card, or HCL Special Collections Card at the library in order to use materials.  For more information see Access to Special Collections.

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Reading Room Rules

View a tutorial for handling special collections

Users must abide by the following use restrictions:

  • photocopying is allowed only by permission of the curators but is discouraged;
  • do not rearrange any materials;
  • do not make any marks on the materials, even with pencils; handle with care;
  • do not use any adhesive materials, including self-adhesive materials such as Post-It Notes and tape, to mark the items. If you must mark items for future reference as you select them, use only pieces of non-adhesive paper, which will be removed by the curators after you have finished consulting the materials and will not be retained by the Library;
  • digital cameras, without flash, can be used to make study copies of materials only with prior permission of the curators. Flash photography causes ink to fade and paper to deteriorate and will not be allowed under any circumstances;
  • copies of archival materials made by users with their own digital cameras may not be published without permission, in writing, of the librarian or curators; a fee may be incurred by the user for permission to publish;
  • copies of materials can be provided by the Library, at cost plus handling charges, at the discretion of the curators; the provision of copies does not include permission to publish. All violations of copyright, including indemnity, are the legal responsibility of users, not of the Library;
  • the Harvard College Library Patron Agreement.

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