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ENGL 413/MARS 420: The History of Books

From Beowulf to Shakespeare

Visiting Purdue University Archives and Special Collections

Lawrence E. and Janet M. Hiler Reading Room

Lawrence E. and Janet M. Hiler Reading Room

One of the most important things to remember before planning your research in Archives and Special Collections, is to give yourself twice as much time as you normally would. This is because our hours are limited (M-F, 10am-4:30pm) and it takes time for staff to retrieve the collections for you. It also takes time to register to use the collections and to carefully study the fragile books and manuscripts.

Below is a description of what your visit will be like:

Upon arriving at the front desk, you will be asked to fill out a registration form and provide a valid ID that will be returned to you when you are finished using the reading room. 

A user request form will be provided for you to fill out the information of the collections you would like to see. 

Not sure what you want to see? If you are not sure what you want to see, a reference archivist will come out to assist you.  However, we do strongly suggest that you email ahead of time with any questions, as it will allow the reference archivist time to search and locate your materials and have them pulled and ready for your visit. 

Contact us before your visit even if you know which collections or books you want to see will save you a great deal of time, as some collections may be located off-site. 

Reading Room Access: Before entering the reading room, you will be asked to place all items in a locker with the exception of: notebooks, paper, pencil, computer, and camera.  A reference archivist will be in the reading room at all times to assist you with any questions you may have. 

Cameras: Please note that if you would like to take a picture of something to first ask the reference archivist, and they will happily assist you.

The archivists are here to help you, so please never hesitate to ask questions.

Handling Rare Books

Rare books and manuscripts are fragile and easily damaged by handling. Please take care to always use a book cradle or support pillow, which can be provided by the staff.  This supports the spine of the book while you are viewing it. To learn more about how to handle rare books, please see these tips from the Folger Library.