Whether you are a seasoned researcher, or it’s your first time in a special collections library, answers to the following frequently asked questions will help you navigate our holdings:
Do I need to make an appointment in advance of my visit?
An appointment to use the collections is not required, but it is advisable to let us know that you plan to visit the library. If you already know what materials you wish to research, we can retrieve those in advance of your arrival, which will save you time. If you need to discuss your project with a curator, librarian, or archivist, it is best to make an appointment by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are your hours?
DeGolyer Library is open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 5:00pm. We are closed on all University holidays.
I have never used special collections before. Where do I start?
Special collections can seem a bit intimidating with all of the rules, regulations, and formalities, but we welcome researchers. Our web site answers many questions, but our staff will also guide you through the process of registration, reading room policies, how to request materials, and how to handle our materials. Just ask!
How do I register as a reader?
Researchers are required to fill out an Application for Use Form as well as supply photo identification before they can examine DeGolyer Library materials. This form must be renewed at the beginning of each new academic year. You can complete the form when you arrive at the front desk, or to save time, you can print, complete, and sign the form and bring it along with your photo identification.
What should I bring with me on my visit?
Pencils, paper, laptops (removed from protective sleeves or bags), and digital cameras or cell phones (with flash and sound disabled) are allowed in the reading room. Individual lockers are available at no charge for backpacks, purses, briefcases, coats, pens, notebooks, and other personal property. All materials taken in or out of the reading room are subject to examination by front desk staff.
How do I find out what materials you hold?
Our collections page provides a brief overview of all our major collections and collecting areas. The vast majority of our materials are cataloged and available online in the library catalog. From the Advanced tab you can filter your search by selecting DeGolyer Library. You can also filter for the type of material within DeGolyer Library to help narrow your search. Many of our archival holdings have finding aids available online via Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO). You are welcome to contact us at email@example.com with your topic as well. DeGolyer staff members are very knowledgeable about the collections and are happy to help.
How do I request materials?
Once you have identified the items you would like to consult, you will need to complete a request form for each item, providing the details of the item and your name and signature. We have two different request forms: one is for manuscripts and photographs and the other is for all other printed material. Front desk staff will collect your request forms, page the materials, and bring them to you in the reading room. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to request materials ahead of time.
How long does it take to retrieve materials?
Depending on how busy we are, we can usually get the requested material to you within 10-15 minutes. If we encounter a delay, we will let you know. Contact us at email@example.com to request materials ahead of time.
May I browse the shelves or borrow materials from special collections?
Unfortunately, no on both counts. All special collections material is held in closed-access areas and can only be consulted in our reading room. Collections can be special for a variety of reasons: age, rarity, fragility, provenance, association, or financial value. For these reasons, access to the stacks is prohibited.
May I use materials from special collections in Fondren?
For security reasons we require anyone wishing to use special collections at the DeGolyer Library to consult the material in the Reading Room. We do not transfer special collections material to other library sites.
May I look at vault items such as early printed books, manuscripts, or photographs?
Typically, researchers demonstrating a genuine research need to use vault materials are allowed access to these items. However, we are very unlikely to agree to a request to view materials just for curiosity's sake, and we do reserve the right to deny access to any researcher, including, but not limited to, the following reasons: conservation issues, materials are digitized and available online, security concerns, or staff availability.
How do I handle rare books, manuscripts, and photographs?
Researchers should wash their hands prior to working with collection materials. Hand lotions and creams should not be used before handling materials. Gloves should be worn when handling photographic materials, and the emulsion side of the photograph should never be touched; rather, pick up a photograph with both hands supporting the image from underneath. Unless directed by staff, researchers are not required to use gloves for manuscripts or rare books because gloves can make it more difficult to handle or turn pages.
Researchers should use pencils only, and no marks or erasures should be made on any materials. Never write on top of photographs, manuscripts, rare books, or other printed materials.
Researchers should use only one folder from one box at a time. All collection items should be kept in their existing arrangement and order. Please notify staff if you suspect something is out of order, and do not attempt to rearrange items.
May I take my own photographs in the Reading Room?
DeGolyer Library permits limited photography in the Reading Room in order to alleviate photocopying and to supplement personal study. Please consult our Digital Camera Use Policy for regulations regarding digital photography.
How do I order images of items from special collections?
DeGolyer Library provides a range of reproduction options from photocopying to digital images. Researchers are encouraged to consider how they plan to use the reproductions and to choose the option that most closely meets those needs. The Library’s sale of a reproduction does not imply an authorization to publish it. Please visit our Imaging Services and Permissions page for ordering instructions and fees.
How do I obtain permission to publish?
Permission to publish in any format (including, but not limited to, printed materials, eBooks, websites, or broadcasts) requires the proper completion, signing, and approval of the Application to Publish form. In order to begin the process, please visit our Ordering Images / Permissions to Publish page. DeGolyer staff will create the Application to Publish based on the information you’ve provided. Permission to publish is considered approved upon the researcher’s receipt of the fully executed, signed copy of the Application to Publish form from DeGolyer Library. Please visit our Imaging Services and Permissions page for detailed instructions.
How do I cite materials?
Citation formats will depend on the style manual used and your specific project, but you should include enough information so that readers can locate your sources. For scholarly works, we suggest you include box numbers and folder titles as well, but at a minimum credit should be as follows:
[Description of item or title], [Name of collection] [accession/call number], DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University.
For exhibitions, presentations, web pages, broadcasts, newspaper or journal articles, etc. in which permission to use images has been granted by DeGolyer Library, please credit as follows:
Courtesy of DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University
If you have any questions about citations, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for help.
Are any materials from special collections available online?
Yes, we have thousands of items from our collections digitized and searchable in our digital collections, and we are constantly adding new content. Due to the extent of our collections and the time and expense involved, however, our digitization efforts are focused, and our goal is not to digitize every item in our holdings.