Access to UW Archives and Special Collections Reading Rooms

Work in UW Archives or Special Collections to examine materials shelved in their reading rooms. Access to UW Archives and Special Collections is limited to UW-Madison faculty, staff, and students. All materials are In-Library Use Only.

Before your visit

  • UW Archives (at Steenbock Library) and Special Collections (at Memorial Library) have opened the reading rooms to researchers in a limited and controlled capacity.
  • For the safety of library staff and researchers, only four researchers will be allowed in the Special Collections reading rooms at a time. Six researchers will be allowed in University Archives
  • The campus face covering policy has been updated. Vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask in campus buildings.
  • Please practice physical distancing of six feet apart.
  • Appointments must be made with at least 48 hours notice. If you need an exception, contact Special Collections or UW Archives.
  • Appointments are available 1pm-4pm, Monday-Friday. Please arrive promptly for your scheduled appointment time. UW Archives and Special Collections close for this service at 4pm.
  • Do not travel to the library if you have not had a confirmation email from us.
  • If you are not feeling well, please respect everyone’s safety and email our staff to cancel or reschedule your appointment.

Services available

All reading room services are contingent upon availability of staff and all building services may not be supported. Please visit our COVID-19 page for the most up-to-date information.

During your appointment, supported services include:

  • view materials in reading room at designated tables
  • limited self-service scanning (including use of mobile devices)
  • onsite research assistance
  • self-service catalog access (Special Collections only)

At this time, we are NOT able to support:

  • printing services
  • copy machines
  • computing support
  • microfilm access
  • duplication services by staff

How to schedule an appointment for visiting UW Archives or Special Collections

Appointments can be made by all UW-Madison faculty, staff, and students, using the appointment request application below.

Go here to start an appointment request.

  1. Select the library.
  2. Note any specific information about services or arrival that are relevant to your visit.
  3. Select a date and time to enter the library.
  4. Answer all questions on the form, including the estimated length of your visit.
  5. Submit your appointment.

You will receive an email message confirming your appointment that includes library specific information and instructions. Please plan on bringing your own laptop or tablet to avoid use of public computers.

Please don’t come to the library without an appointment or before requesting materials through your Archives and Special Collections Account. We must ensure we are meeting physical distancing guidelines, and are working carefully to ensure scheduled times allow for minimal contact for all involved.

If we do not have sufficient staffing to support your visit, UW Archives and Special Collections may notify you that an appointment has been cancelled and will need to be rescheduled.

If you have questions during this process or can’t make your appointment contact Special Collections or UW Archives.

Please see our Accessibility page if you are unable to access our libraries physically due to health reasons.

Onsite guidelines for UW Archives and Special Collections

  • You will also need to present your Wiscard in the reading room. Please hold up your Wiscard from a safe distance so staff can verify the information.
  • Please wash your hands thoroughly after arriving. Hand sanitizer will be available for use, but hands must be thoroughly rinsed or washed after using hand sanitizer and before handling collection materials to ensure that no sanitizer residue is transferred to the materials, as it may damage them.
  • Place your belongings in a designated locker. Please bring your own water supply to be stored in your locker.
  • Researchers may bring into the reading room only silenced cell phones, digital cameras, pencils, and laptops or tablets without cases. Power cords and headphones for electronic equipment are permitted.
  • Social distancing will be practiced at all times during your visit. Please observe any floor markings that indicate safe distances. In the reading room, you will be assigned a table that is distanced from the staff and other researchers. Shared surfaces are regularly disinfected.
  • Researchers will only wear gloves when working with photographs and metal objects.
  • No materials will be retrieved within 15 minutes of closing.