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Small Special Collections Library, UVa

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Phone: (434) 243-1776 | Fax:(434) 924-4968

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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. When can I use the collections? When can I view the exhibitions?
  2. I would like to visit Special Collections. What do I need to know?
  3. I would like information about my antiquarian book or manuscript.
  4. How much is my antiquarian book worth?
  5. How can I obtain a copy of a certain manuscript or book?
  6. How can I use an image or a quote from an item in Special Collections?
  7. Why can’t Special Collections answer my reference question?
  8. I would like to order copies of master’s thesis or dissertation written by a University of Virginia student.
  9. Can I use a digital camera or scanner?
  10. I would like a job in Special Collections.
  11. How should I take care of my antiquarian manuscript or book?
  12. How can I locate the copyright holder for an unpublished manuscript?

When can I use the collections? When can I view the exhibitions?

Special Collections is open Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., during the academic school year. During the summer, Special Collections hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., When the University of Virginia is not in session, Special Collections is open on Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. See the University’s academic calendar to find out when school is in session.

I would like to visit Special Collections. What do I need to know?

We welcome your visit to Special Collections. Our reading room is located on the first floor of the new Harrison Institute/Small Library, one floor down from the main entrance. Our hours of operation are 9am to 9pm, Monday through Thursday, 9am to 5pm on Friday and Saturday during the academic school year. Hours vary slightly during the summer and intersession when evening hours are suspended and Saturday hours may be shortened. When you arrive in our reading room you will be required to fill out a short registration form and to show a picture ID (driver's license, passport, etc.). After registering you may then request Special Collections materials at one of our public computer terminals. Retrieval of materials usually takes only a matter of minutes. We normally do not pull materials in advance of a researcher’s visit except for items housed off-grounds in a storage facility. Researchers view materials in the Special Collections Reading Room. Only loose paper, pencils and a laptop computer are permitted in the reading room. No bags, envelopes, folders, notebooks, tablets, or containers of any type are permitted. Lockers are provided to secure your belongings. Accommodations and parking within walking distance of the Library are noted on our website at http://www.lib.virginia.edu/small/.

I would like information about my antiquarian book or manuscript.

Due to the high volume of reference requests that we receive, we regret that we cannot answer questions that are not specifically about copies of books or manuscripts in our collections. Here are some suggestions for finding information about your book:

  • Visit your local library and ask about using WorldCat, an online resource that includes over 30 million catalog records and holdings from over 12,000 libraries worldwide.
  • Search your book online at http://www.bookfinder.com or http://www.abebooks.com to see if any antiquarian dealers have a book for sale that matches the description of your book.
  • Search UVa's online catalog, VIRGO, for bibliographic information about your book (virgo.lib.virginia.edu).

If you are particularly interested in rare materials, you can do an advanced search and select Special Collections as the library in the pull-down menu. Visit our Special Collections in person to view materials in our collection. You can also hire an independent researcher to look at materials in our collection on your behalf. You can also look at our list of appraisers or under "Book Dealers, Used and Rare" in your local yellow pages for an appraiser near you. If in the course of your research you have a question about a specific copy of a book or manuscript owned by the Special Collections Department, please contact us again.

How much is my antiquarian book worth?

We are not able to research book prices for you but you can search your book online at http://www.bookfinder.com or http://www.abebooks.com to see if any antiquarian dealers have a book for sale that matches the description of your book. You can locate appraisers through the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of American website, or under "Book Dealers, Used and Rare" in your local yellow pages. You can also reivew our list of appraisers in the Charlottesville area at http://www2.lib.virginia.edu/small/gifts/appraisers.html.

How can I obtain a copy of a certain antiquarian or book?

Search your book online at http://www.bookfinder.com or http://www.abebooks.com to see if any antiquarian dealers have a book for sale that matches the description of your book.
To order photocopies, photographs, digital images, or microfilm of Special Collections materials, see http://www2.lib.virginia.edu/small/using/reproductions.html.

How can I use an image or a quote from an item in Special Collections?

It is not necessary to seek the Library’s permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise distribute portions of texts or individual images (up to 20 from any given work or collection) for educational or scholarly purposes, whether undertaken by non-commercial or commercial publishers or distributors. Requests to publish or distribute larger amounts of material or questions regarding permissions should be addressed to Special Collections. Reproductions may not be made for or donated to other repositories. Please see our complete statement on use and reproduction for additional details. For information on digital services we offer click here.

Why can’t Special Collections answer my reference question?

Due to the high volume of requests that we receive, Special Collections can only answer reference questions concerning materials unique to our collections. We do not answer general reference questions and cannot undertake in-depth picture research.

Some research inquiries exceed the scope of the reference service that the staff of Special Collections is able to provide and still maintain essential services to students, faculty, and staff of the University of Virginia. If we determine that answering your question will take more than 30 minutes of staff time, we will refer you to our list of independent researchers in the Charlottesville area. These researchers are familiar with our collections and may be employed to do in-depth research.

I would like to order copies of a master’s thesis or dissertation written by a University of Virginia student.

You can order copies of U.Va. dissertations and some U.Va. theses at http://umi.com.
If the master’s thesis that you are seeking is not available at this website, you can request that Special Collections make a photocopy for you. However, because U.Va. master’s theses and dissertations are published documents and are inherently copyrighted, you must limit your request to one chapter or 10% of the entire work, which ever is less. In order to have more than a chapter copied, you need to get written permission from the author. Contact the Student Records Department at Alumni Hall (434/243-9066 or 434/243-9067) to request the most recent address for an alumnus. The author can mail his written permission to Special Collections Library, P.O. Box 400110, Charlottesville, Virginia 22904-4110 or fax it to our attention at (434) 924-4968.

Can I use a digital camera or scanner?

As a general rule, hand-held personal digital cameras may be used to make copies of rare materials in the reading room. For security and preservation reasons, handheld or flatbed scanners are not permitted in the reading room. Researchers must fill out and sign an Application to Use a Personal Camera in the Reading Room form. Each collection or item photographed will be approved and listed by Special Collections desk staff. Researchers will be provided with an identifying strip to include in each photograph. For more information, see our Digital Camera Policy.

If you are planning a research visit to Special Collections and would like to know in advance whether we will approve your use of a digital camera, please submit a request through our online reference request form and let us know which materials you may wish to photograph.

Images of materials that are made in our Reading Room must not be used for publication or use on a website without permission. For information on using Special Collections materials in publications or on websites, please refer to our Use, Reproduction, and Publication of Materials policy.

[updated 06/09/09]

I a.m. a U.Va. Student and I would like a job in Special Collections.

We hire undergraduate- and graduate-level student assistants for jobs in Special Collections both during the school year and during the summer months. If you are interested in a job and you are currently enrolled as a full time student at the University of Virginia, please contact Anne Causey at apc7f@virginia.edu.

How should I take care of my antiquarian manuscript or book?

The American Institute for Conservation has a page on taking care of your treasures at
http://aic.stanford.edu/library/online/brochures/index.html

How can I locate the copyright holder for an unpublished manuscript?

The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin maintains the WATCH file: Writers and Their Copyright Holders at http://tyler.hrc.utexas.edu/. The burden of securing permission to publish from a copyright holder rests with the researcher or the publisher.



University of Virginia Library
PO Box 400113, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4113
ph: (434) 924-3021, fax: (434) 924-1431, library@virginia.edu

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