Making Requests

First-time users will need to register for a Special Collections Request AccountRequests for Houghton materials can be made directly from HOLLIS.

Requests placed outside of the Reading Room will be retrieved by staff upon arrival. The number of items retrieved at one time may be limited at the discretion of the staff. Staff stop retrieving material one half hour before closing.

Harvard Depository (HD) and Harry Elkins Widener (HEW) Collection items are located off-site and must be requested at least one business day in advance. Specify a Scheduled Date when submitting requests so that material may be recalled in time for your visit. No more than six boxes per day may be ordered from off-site. 

Consulting Material

After you have placed requests (or if you need help in placing them), come to Houghton with your Harvard ID and sign in with the lobby door checker to use the Reading Room. Material can only be consulted in the Reading Room, and cannot be removed from it.

In addition to the handling guidelines in the below video, researchers must abide by the following regulations:

  • The Reading Room is exclusively for the use of collection material.  A coatroom and lockers are provided for personal property not essential for Houghton research. Personal books and papers must be kept to an absolute minimum, and some may require documentation.
  • The use of pens is not permitted in the Reading Room.  Pencils are available at the Reading Room desk. The use of laptop computers is encouraged.
  • Equipment (such as scanners or light sources) that rests directly on collection material is not permitted.
  • Researchers must show all books and papers to the Reading Room staff each time they leave the Reading Room.
  • All books and manuscripts must be returned promptly to the desk when the librarian announces that the Reading Room is closing.

Handling Material

Digital Photography and Scanning Requests

In order to take digital photographs of collections material, researchers must sign a copy of the Digital Camera Policy, available at the Reading Room desk.

Requests for reference or publishable quality scans can be made directly from HOLLIS.

Disability Services

Houghton's front door is accessible via a short flight of steps up from the level of Quincy Street. For wheelchair access, please contact Public Services to make an appointment.