Using the Collections

Special Collections of the National Agricultural Library is open to everyone. Because our materials are unique, rare, or fragile, they may only be viewed in the Special Collections reading room during open hours. We do not lend Special Collections materials to researchers or other libraries.

You must make an appointment before visiting the reading room. This lets us make sure staff are available to assist you. We will pull your research materials and have them ready when you arrive.

Please explore the library catalog and our collection guides to become familiar with our materials and to request items you want to see during your visit.

If you have questions or need research help, please contact us.

Planning Your Visit

What to bring

  • Government-issued photo identification, such as a passport or driver’s license

  • Laptop or tablet computer

  • Digital camera (with the flash turned off)

  • Paper for taking notes

What not to bring

  • Food, drink, chewing gum, or mints

  • Pens, highlighters, or markers. We supply pencils for taking notes.

  • Self-stick notes

  • Personal scanners or tripods

Other things to know

  • You’ll be asked to present photo identification and sign a visitors’ log when you enter the library building. Any bags or packages you bring will be inspected by the security guard.

  • Once you arrive in the reading room, you will need to fill out a researcher registration form.

  • Reading room staff will retrieve requested collections materials for you. Visitors may not browse the collections or get materials on their own.

  • We will offer guidance on care and handling of collections. Your cooperation in following these procedures helps us preserve the materials for future research.

  • We provide lockers outside the reading room for storing coats, backpacks or bags, umbrellas, and any other personal property not essential to your work in the reading room.

  • Please silence your mobile phone while working in the reading room, and leave the room for all calls.

  • We reserve the right to limit the use of fragile materials or items with donor restrictions.

  • See our Duplication Services page for how to obtain copies.