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Frequently Asked Questions

About Your Account

Requesting Materials

Tracking Your Requests

Photography and Duplication Orders

Access and Reading Rooms Use

General Questions

About Your Account

What is the Special Collections Request System?

The Special Collections Request System powered by Aeon is an automated request and workflow management software specifically designed for special collections libraries and archives. We are implementing the system to improve patron services and maximize staff efficiency while providing unparalleled item tracking, security and statistics.

Why do I need to create an online researcher account?

This account allows researchers to manage their requests online at home.

How do I create an UVA Special Collections Request System account?

To create an account, please do one of the following:

  1. Click the "Log in" button located on our homepage here: https://library.virginia.edu/special-collections
    • UVA researchers will register and create an account using their NetBadge ID and password
    • Non-UVA researchers will click on the "Non-UVA" button and then the "First Time Users" link below the sign-in window.
  2. Search for and request a collection item in either Virgo or ArchivesSpace. Once you click on the "Special Collections Request" button, you will be directed to our sign-in page.

A valid picture ID is required to the reference desk staff to complete registration once you arrive at the Library.

What is my researcher status?

UVA users:

  • Include all current University of Virginia students, faculty, and staff who have NetBadge credentials

Non-UVA users:

  • Include those researchers not currently affiliated with the University of Virginia, as well as UVA retirees and alumni

Do I have to have my picture taken?

Researchers have the option of having their picture taken and added to their online researcher account. Though photographs are optional, they benefit both researchers and staff by cutting down on wait time for materials, improving accuracy of information passed between staff during shift changes, and increasing safety and security of both researchers and collection materials. Researcher photographs are stored on our secure server in the internal researcher database only.

How do I change my password?

Log in to your Special Collections Request System account, and click "Change Password" under "Preferences" on the left-hand side menu.

What if I forget my password?

Go to the Special Collections Request System log in page. If you are a non-UVA researcher, select the "Logon or Register" button, the select the "Forgot Password?" button to reset your password.

Users who registered as an UVA researcher will have been prompted to register using their NetBadge ID and password. This cannot be changed through your online researcher account. Please contact the ITS Help Desk for assistance with resetting your password.

How do I change or update other personal information, such as email address and phone number?

Log in to your Special Collections Request System account, and click "Change User Information" under "Preferences" on the left-hand side menu.

I have an online researcher account at another special collections library powered by Aeon. Can I use that here?

Unfortunately, no. Request systems powered by Aeon are unique to each institution and accounts are not connected across institutions in order to protect patron privacy.

Who do I contact if I have problems with my Special Collections Research Account?

You may contact us directly using our Online Reference Request form, or by emailing scpubserv@virginia.edu.

Requesting Materials

How can I access audio-visual and born digital materials in your collections?

Audio-visual and born digital materials are not made immediately available onsite but may be accessible following consultation with members of our staff.

In most cases, materials must be reformatted before they can be accessed, sometimes at the researcher's expense. Turnaround time for these requests takes a minimum of 6 weeks.

To proceed with requests to access born digital and audio-visual content, please submit a Duplication Order Request. Be sure to include the following information in your request:

  • Title, Call Number, and Item information (box, folder, material type if known— cd, cassette, film reel, USB, etc...)

An appointment is required to access content at the Library, following consultation with staff.

How can I search the collections?

Researchers can search for collection materials using one of the following methods:

  1. VIRGO - University Library Online Catalog
      Filter search results to Special Collections using facets to narrow your search by Library.
  2. ArchivesSpace - Finding aid database for archival and manuscript materials added after 2016
  3. Virginia Heritage - Finding aid database for archival and manuscript materials added before 2016
      Requests for materials found in Virginia Heritage must be made from the VIRGO record

How do I request materials from my account?

Log in to your Special Collections Request System account, navigate to the New Requests tab at the top of the screen, and click either "Search Virgo" to access Virgo, or click "Archives at UVA" to search ArchivesSpace for papers received after 2016.

Is there a limit to how many items I can request?

Requests are limited to six individual collection items at one time. When requesting manuscript collections, archival collections, or multi-volume sets, each box or volume must be requested individually. We cannot pull multiple boxes or volumes with a single request.

You can return to the collection or item record from your web browser tabs to request additional boxes.

The "Save for Later" button allows you to create and save an unlimited number of requests. These requests are not considered submitted and will remain accessible under the Unsubmitted Requests tab in your online accounts dashboard until you submit them.

How long does it take to retrieve materials?

We retrieve materials from our stacks and off-site storage facility using the following retrieval schedule:

  • On-site requests are pulled every half hour during Reading Room hours.
    • We stop pulling materials 30 minutes before closing.
  • Off-site requests
    • Ivy Stacks materials take a minimum of 72 working hours to arrive at the Library.
      • Staff may review requests based on the number of items requested to determine whether an appointment at Ivy Stacks is needed.
      • Researchers receive an email confirming a request has been received, and another when the material is available in the Reading Room.

I am having trouble placing a request. Whom can I talk to?

You may contact us directly using our Online Reference Request form, or by emailing scpubserv@virginia.edu. You may also call the Library during business hours at 434-924-0896.

I submitted my requests. What's next?

Get ready to visit the Small Special Collections Library! We will pull your materials by the date you selected for your visit.

If we need additional information about the items you requested, Special Collections staff may contact you. You can always check the status of your requests by logging in to your online researcher account.

Tracking Your Requests

When can I visit the reading room to view my requests?

The status of your request will appear in your online researcher account. Once a request is listed as "Item Available," it will be ready to view in the reading room.

Items in "Item Available" will remain on hold for you for two weeks. If you have not visited the reading room before then, the item(s) will be re-shelved. If your visit has been delayed and you need to extend the hold on your items, please contact us at scpubserv@virginia.edu

If your materials have been re-shelved, please request them again for your new visit date.

How do I track the status of my request?

Log into your Special Collections Request System account. The main menu page displays all current and past requests. You will see a status column on the right listing where your request is in our system.

Once a request is submitted to Special Collections staff, you will see the status of your item display as "Request Received." When the request is being pulled, the status will display as "Retrieving Materials" and when the item is ready for you, the status will display as "Item Available."

I requested the wrong item. How can I cancel it?

Go to your Special Collections Request System account and click "Review Requests" under "My Requests" on the left-hand side menu. Click the transaction number (TN) of the item you wish to cancel, to view the full transaction information. At the top, click the "Cancel Request" button.

I see the status of my request changes. What do these statuses mean?

"Request Received" and "Retrieving Materials" mean that the requested item is currently being processed by Special Collections staff.

"Item Available" means your requested materials are ready to use in the reading room.

"Awaiting Item Reshelving" means the materials are waiting to be shelved and "Request Finished" means your item has been re-shelved.

Researchers requesting materials from our off-site storage facility, Ivy Stacks should be aware of the following statuses, as they pertain to availability and access of materials.

  • "In Retrieval at Ivy" means that the requested item is currently being processed and pulled for delivery.
  • "Ivy Requests in Staff Review" means that are reviewing the request to determine whether an appointment to visit the Ivy Stacks reading room is necessary to access materials.
  • "Ivy Reading Room Requests" means that your requested materials are being pulled for use in the Ivy Stacks reading room. Special Collections staff will contact you once the materials are ready for use.

How can I review all the requests I have made in the past?

Go to your Special Collections Request System account, and select "All Requests" under "My requests" on the left-hand side menu to view your complete request history.

Photography and Duplication Orders

Can I use a digital camera, camera phone, tablet, or personal scanner in the reading rooms?

Hand held cameras, scanners, and cell phones may be used without flash in the reading room to photograph materials for research use. Equipment must not touch the surface of collections materials. Please inform reference staff if you are planning to take photographs to obtain a photo citation strip prior to taking pictures. For more information, please view our Camera Use Policy.

Flat-bed scanners, tripods, photocopiers, as well as outside lights and flash are not permitted. Please silence cell phones, laptops, tablets, and other devices in order not to disturb others. Researchers will not be allowed to place materials or themselves in jeopardy by standing on furniture to get the "best" shot.

How do I submit a duplication request?

If you have submitted a request to view materials in the reading room, and would like to change it to a duplication order, select "All Requests" from the left-hand side menu and select the TN number to view the transaction details. Select "Clone to Copy" at the top of the screen. Fill out the appropriate information and submit the duplication order.

Alternatively, you can select the "Duplication Order" option in your online researcher account to submit a duplication order manually. Please only use this option if you know all the information for the item, including call number, collection name along with series and box number, and other identification information. If you need assistance locating that information, please submit an Online Reference Request.

Requests for high-resolution images can be made to the Digital Production Group.

Are there costs associated with duplication?

There are no fees for low-resolution research copies, provided through the Duplication Order forms in your online researcher account.

The Digital Production Group does charge a flat hourly fee for high-resolution scans. The Group scans approximately 25 pages per hour. Larger items will take more time to scan.

The fees are: $50 for the first hour of work and $25 for each hour after.

My duplication order has been delivered. How do I access the digital images from my request?

Go to your Special Collections Request System account, and select "Delivered Items" under "Orders" on the left-hand side menu. Select "View" and the file will be automatically downloaded.

Remember to save the images within 30 days; otherwise, they will be automatically deleted from your account.

I cannot download the item. What should I do?

You may contact us directly by submitting an Online Reference Request, or by emailing scpubserv@virginia.edu.

Access and Reading Rooms Use

Can I check materials out of the Special Collections Library?

Materials, except for microfilm are non-circulating and accessed only in our reading rooms. Microfilm requests may be made through InterLibrary Loan by participating libraries. All other materials may not be removed from the Library for any reason, at any time.

Can I study in the reading rooms?

No. As our materials cannot be taken out of the building, our Reading Room is open only to those using Special Collections Materials. There are other study areas in the Harrison/Small building where you are welcome to work, such as the South Gallery (2nd floor) and Taylor Nook (3rd floor).

What can I bring into the reading rooms?

  • Laptops, iPads, and PC tablets
  • Phones (silence & no flash)
  • Cameras (no flash)
  • Personal scanners (handheld)
  • Charger cords
  • Headphones
  • Pencils
  • Loose sheets of paper
  • Glasses and magnifying glass
  • If worn, jackets, sweaters, shawls, sweatshirts, and hats

Is there a place for me to store my personal belongings?

Yes, lockers and a coat rack are provided to house the following:

  • All personal belongings, including purses, bags, backpacks, laptop cases, briefcases, wallets, eye-glass cases, and any other enclosures
  • Books, legal notepads, spiral notebooks, journals, folders, binders, and pens
  • Outerwear such as heavy coats or jackets, gloves, scarves and hats

Food and drink items are not permitted within the Small Special Collections Library.

A table is provided outside of the reference area for researchers to leave drink and food containers.

I can't travel to UVA. Can someone help me with my research?

A list of Independent Researchers who are familiar with our collections is available to those researchers unable to visit the Small Special Collections Library in person.

We do provide limited in-depth reference assistance to remote users. If you have a reference question, please submit an Online Reference Request and one of our staff will assist you.

Do I need permission to publish materials from your collections?

It is not necessary to seek the Library's permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use materials from collections. This applies whether your use is non-commercial or commercial. For Special Collections materials, we do ask as a courtesy that you credit the Library as the holder of the original materials in the forms described below, as reasonably possible given the context of your use

However, the Library's consent as the owner of physical or digital copies of any given work does not address copyright or other legal issues that may affect publication or other re-use of these materials. Copyrights in Library materials are typically owned by third parties, and it is the sole responsibility of the user or recipient of copies of Special Collections and other Library materials to investigate the copyright status of any given work and to seek and obtain permission where needed prior to any distribution or publication.

What is the best way to handle collection materials?

Help us preserve all materials by handling them gently and with clean hands, including 20th and 21st century materials. Unsure what to do? Ask a staff member for assistance.

Care and Handling General:

  • Wash your hands
  • Always keep materials on the table
  • Turn/flip over pages carefully and gently to prevent accidental tears
  • Do not rest arms, phones, cameras, notes on materials
    • Weights are available to hold pages down
  • Photograph/Scan without flash
  • Do not mark on or erase content from documents
  • No tracings or rubbings may be made

Archival Materials:

Original order and arrangement are important and can tell as much about the subject of the collection as the documents themselves. Please:

  • Use one box at a time
  • Remove one folder (entirely) from the box
  • Insert blue place marker to mark the folders place in the box
  • Do not hold items in your lap or in the air
  • Maintain the order of pages in the folder, turning them like pages in a book
    • Do not reorder the pages and alert staff if something is out of order
    • An online form is available to suggest changes
  • Do not shake down pages or tap on the table to straighten documents
  • Do not shove folders into the box; please alert staff if a box is overfull

Books and Bound Materials:

  • Always use book cradles
  • Place nothing on top of materials, except book weights
  • Turn pages slowly and carefully, touching only the margins if possible
  • Do not push down on books to flatten them
  • Do not hold books in your lap or in the air

If you are unsure of how to handle materials, please ask reference staff for assistance.

I need accessibility accommodations.

The Small Special Collections Library is committed to creating inclusive, accessible, and welcoming spaces that enable all individuals, regardless of physical or cognitive ability, to engage with our materials and resources. Please let us know how we can best accommodate you during your visit by submitting an Online Reference Request form or by calling us at 434-924-3082.

General Questions

What are Special Collections?

The Albert & Shirley Small Special Collections Library houses the University of Virginia's collections of rare books, manuscripts, and the University Archives. The Library contains both primary and secondary resource materials that have characteristics, which set them apart from other types of collections in the Libraries.

These qualities may include:

  • Rarity: books, manuscripts, and other materials, which are old, scarce or unique.
  • Format: photographs, slides, films, audio and video recordings, maps, artworks, artifacts, and other objects that require special handling.
  • Breadth: accumulations of materials that are individually not unique, but collectively comprise an important resource because of their relevance to a particular topic or individual.

Small Special Collections materials are located in closed stacks, meaning they are only retrievable by staff and do not circulate outside the reading rooms. Faculty, staff, students, and the public are not permitted in the stacks or vault areas.

Who can use your collections?

Everyone! Affiliation with the University of Virginia is not required to view access collections.

What are your hours?

Our year-round hours are:

  • Monday & Tuesday: 10:00am - 5:00pm
  • Wednesday & Thursday: 11:00am - 7:00pm
  • Friday: 10:00am - 5:00pm
  • Saturday: 12:00pm - 4:00pm
  • Sunday: CLOSED

These hours may be altered during University breaks, certain holidays, and during severe weather.

Do I need to make an appointment to visit?

Appointments are not required to visit the Small Special Collections Library but can be scheduled when submitting a request for materials.

Where are you located?

Our address is 170 McCormick Rd, Charlottesville, VA 22904.

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