James Ford Bell Library

Using the Collection

(The information on this page applies to both the James Ford Bell Library and the Wilson Rare collection, whose materials are paged by Bell staff and used in the Bell reading room. Questions about the Wilson Rare collection may be directed to curator Timothy Johnson, johns976@umn.edu or 612/624-3552.)


Access to the James Ford Bell Library and Wilson Rare collections is open to all. These are non-circulating materials, which must be used only in the Bell Library reading room. Permission to examine materials normally will be granted to any qualified researcher upon completion of the registration form and agreement to abide by the rules governing use.

More than 90% of the Bell Collection can be found in MNCAT, the University of Minnesota's online catalog. To search the Bell Library specifically, it is best to do an Advanced Search. You can link to the search page here. In the bottom half of the search screen, you can select the James Ford Bell Library or any of a number special collections or libraries at the University of Minnesota. Note: The date search function on this page does not work for the Bell Library.


Researcher Registration Form

The researcher registration form is a MS Word document that can be downloaded to your own computer for completion. It may save you valuable research time if you bring the completed form with you when you visit.

NOTE: You will be asked to produce current and valid photo identification (U of M ID, driver's license, passport, etc.); anyone failing to produce a legitimate photo ID will be denied access to collection materials.


Instructions & Conditions for Use

The following instructions are designed to enhance the security of the collection and to ensure its proper care. Please review them carefully before using the collections, and do not hesitate to ask the staff for assistance. Bell Library staff reserve the right to limit or prohibit access to any materials if potential for misuse is evident.

  • Complete and sign the Researcher Registration Form the first time you visit, and sign the daily register each time you visit. Be prepared to show a valid photo identification (U of M ID, driver's license, passport, or other photo ID issued by a state or federal government agency) to a staff member when you submit the registration form.
  • Lockers and other secured areas are available for coats, backpacks, briefcases, purses, and other bags; these items are not permitted in the reading room.
  • No food or beverages of any kind are allowed in the reading room.
  • Use only pencils in the reading room. Materials must not be written on, leaned upon, traced, fastened together, folded or otherwise altered or mutilated in any way. Retain the order of file folders or boxes of manuscript and art collections. We welcome reports of items that appear to have been misfiled or dated incorrectly. If you encounter problems with the physical condition or arrangement of materials, bring them to the attention of a staff person.
  • Personal computers may be used unless their operation distracts other researchers. Note that the reading room contains only two plugs, one on each side of the room. 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. Forms are available for this purpose in the reading room; please complete one form for each item to be placed on hold, and inform the staff of when you expect to return and the length of time you would like the item held. As a general rule, we will not hold items longer than 2 weeks, but special arrangements can be made.
  • Return books and other materials directly to a staff member when you have finished using them. Please do not leave them unattended on a table or shelf. Removal of any item from the Library (suite 472 Wilson Library) without the consent of the Bell curator or assistant curator will be considered theft and punishable to the full extent of the law.
Wilson Rare is part of Special Collections, Rare Books & Manuscripts, a unique unit in the Archives and Special Collections Department of the University of Minnesota Libraries. [Learn More]


See Bell Library Services for: Photocopying Digital Reproduction Other Reproduction Options Permission to Publish Research & Reference Services
O. Meredith Wilson Library
309 19th Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55455
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Monday - Friday
8:30am - 4:30pm
Weekends: Closed
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Phone: 612-624-1528
E-mail: jfbell@umn.edu
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