Guidelines for the Handling and Care of Special Collections


General Guidelines for all Special Collections Items

Item Specific Guidelines


Please note your topic of research, any materials you would like pulled, and any additional questions, comments, or concerns

Planning Your VisitGloved hand handling archival materials



Photocopies / Reproductions 

Contact the Special Collections Librarian



General Guidelines for all Special Collections Items

  • All items are non-circulating
  • Items must remain in the Special Collections work area while researchers review them
  • All bags, food, and drink must be left with the public services staff before entering the Special Collections work area
  • Only pencils and notepaper can be used while working with the materials.  Pens and adhesive (“post-it”) notes can leave lasting marks or residue on materials.
  • Request items by 4 pm
  • The work area closes at 4:30. All items must be returned by 4:30 so items can be secured for the night


Item Specific Guidelines

Fragile Books

  • Cotton gloves are provided
  • Gloves are not advised for page turning, but please use a glove when handling fragile bindings
  • Book rests are provided to alleviate stress to book spines


  • We provide one box at a time in the Special Collections work area and ask that you only open one folder at a time, in order to minimize filing errors
  • Special weights are provided to hold down the corners of rolled manuscripts


  • Special weights are provided to hold down the corners of rolled maps
  • Please place them carefully at each corner 


  • Please use the cotton gloves provided to reduce transfer of natural oils from skin contact 


Planning Your Visit

Please review the special collection guidelines listed above.

Please review the hours that the Special Collections are available.

Special Collections access is by appointment only.  Click here to book your appointment now.

If you locate specific items in the library catalog that you will want to view, please bring a print out of each item's catalog record with you. 

While no appointment is necessary, you may wish to arrange for materials in advance of your visit, as many items take time to retrieve from their secure location.  To do so please contact the Special Collections Librarian.

Upon your arrival, please check in with the librarian at the Public Services desk.  She/he will have the items brought to the Special Collections work area for viewing.

If you have any questions about accessing, or the use of, Special Collections at the Washington State Library, please browse our Frequently Asked Questions page, or contact the Special Collections Librarian.



Make an appointment.

Tuesday-Friday, 10:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Washington State Library is closed for all Washington State holidays.

The Special Collections work area closes at 4:30. All items must be returned at that time, so they can be secured for the night. 



The Special Collections work area is on the 2nd floor of the Washington State Library, adjacent to the Public Services desk.

The State Library is located at 6880 Capitol Boulevard Southeast in Tumwater, Washington.

Map & Directions

The State Library has parking lots on either side of the building.  Parking is free.


Photocopies / Reproductions

Please discuss your photocopying needs with Public Services staff; rare and fragile materials often require special consideration when reproducing.

Cameras are allowed, following consultation with the Public Services Staff. Camera flashes must be disabled, to protect books and manuscripts from the deteriorating effects of intense light.


Contact Special Collections Staff

Please contact us at [email protected] or 360-704-5221.