Archives and Special Collections are open by appointment only, limited to UMN affiliates. Appointments must be made one week in advance of your visit. Contact or the curator of the collecting area you wish to use for assistance. We continue to provide scans of requested research materials when possible, especially for our non-campus clientele.

Plan Your Visit :: Rules for Researchers

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

  • Make an appointment. Send an e-mail to or call us at 612-624-1528. Tell us when you want to come and what you would like to see. This will ensure that the materials you want to use are ready and available.  48 hours notice would be most appreciated.
  • If you do not make an appointment, please 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 Libraries' online catalog. For best results, select Advanced Search. In this screen you can limit results to the James Ford Bell Library by selecting  "Catalog Only" 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.


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 and similar devices may be used . 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 reading room without the consent of the curatorial staff will be considered theft and punishable to the full extent of the law.
  • Additional guidelines will be shared with you as part of the researcher registration process.

Marco Polo, 1477