Plan Your Visit :: Hours & Closings :: Directions :: Rules for Researchers

Marco Polo, 1477

Plan Your Visit

To make the most of your time at the Bell Library, here are a few tips:

  • Call ahead to ensure that the reading room is open during the hours you plan to come. Sometimes we close for classes or special events. You also may make an appointment outside of our regular hours, pending staff availability. Call us at 612-624-1528 or send an e-mail to Changes in hours also will be posted to our home page whenever possible.
  • Come prepared with a list of items you’d like to see. Include the call # (the # in parentheses in the "Available at" line of the catalog record), the name of the author and at least the first few words of the title. While we can sometimes accommodate researchers who walk in and say “I’d like to see something on pirates,” it takes time and may not get you the results you need. You may search our collection through the University’s online catalog MNCAT Discovery. For best results, select Advanced Search. In this screen you can limit results to the James Ford Bell Library by selecting the tab "Libraries Catalog" and then selecting the James Ford Bell Library from the drop down list in the box labeled "Search Scope."
  • Read the rules for researchers below and come prepared to follow them. You will be asked to complete a researcher registration form when you arrive and to show a photo ID.
  • Bring a sweater. The reading room is climate controlled to maintain a consistent temperature of about 67 degrees. Due to the changes in temperature outside the suite, it can sometimes feel a lot colder.


Hours & Closings

Academic Year Hours: September 6, 2016 - May 5, 2017
8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Walk-in service ends at 4:15 p.m.

Closed for all University holidays


Appointments are welcome. Appointments, especially outside of regular hours, are subject to staff availability and are restricted to Wilson Library Building Hours. Requests should be made at least a week in advance.

NOTE: It may be necessary to close the reading room occasionally due to class visits, special events, or staff illness. In some instances, it may not be possible to post the change in hours on the Web site or on our voice mail, so it is a good idea to call ahead, especially if you’re traveling a long distance to get here. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.



The Bell Library is located on the 4th floor of Wilson Library on the west bank University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus. Our address: 309-19th Av So, Suite 472, Minneapolis, MN 55455 Note: Don’t confuse us with the Bell Museum, which is on the east bank!

Once on the 4th floor, turn right at the top of the stairs or left as you get off the elevator and enter the open reading area straight ahead. You will see our exhibit space behind a wall of glass—on your right if you’re facing the water fountain. Enter the Library through the exhibit. Map of 4th floor of Wilson Library

Driving Directions: (Click here to view map of West Bank Campus with Wilson Library)

For parking information, call: University of Minnesota Parking Services: 626-PARK


Rules for Researchers

  • No food or beverages of any kind are allowed in the reading room.
  • Pencils only. No ink of any kind is allowed in the reading room. We may ask that you wash your hands before handling materials to ensure that ink, food, and other substances will not transfer to the rare materials .
  • Personal computers may be used unless their operation distracts other researchers. Note that the reading room contains a small number of electrical outlets. The reading room does have wireless access.
  • Please be respectful of other researchers and limit your conversation to that necessary to accomplish your research.
  • Copying and other forms of duplication are possible, depending on the condition of the particular item. Visit our Services page for more information.
  • You may request that an item be placed on hold if you intend to use it again within the week. As a general rule, we will not hold items longer than 2 weeks, but special arrangements can be made.
  • All material is non-circulating—it cannot leave the reading room. Removal of any item from the Library (suite 472 Wilson Library) without the consent of the curator or assistant curator will be considered theft and punishable to the full extent of the law.