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Special Collections Reference Guide: FAQ

Do I need an appointment?

No! Once you have made a request using our online request system, come in at your convenience. We can pull materials for you same-day.

Who can use the Reading Room?

  • BYU students, faculty, staff
  • Visiting researchers, patrons not affiliated with BYU
  • Children under the age of 14 are not allowed.

Can I request additional materials during my visit?

Yes! If there are additional materials you are wanting to look at, let a Reference Assistant know. We are able to pull materials for you same-day, usually within 5-10 minutes.

What can I bring into the Reading Room?

Items that are allowed:

  • Loose-leaf paper
  • Pencils
  • Laptop
  • Cardigans, pull-over hoodies, blazers

Items that are NOT allowed:

  • Water bottle
  • Snacks
  • Pens
  • Backpacks, purses, bags
  • Laptop case
  • Zip-up hoodies, outerwear - raincoats, wintercoats, overcoats
  • Hats

Where do I store my belongings?

Lockers are available at no charge for Special Collections patrons.

What happens after I make a request?

Once you have submitted your request, one of our Reference Assistants will pull the book or manuscript you have requested from our library shelves. We may contact you via email if we have any questions regarding your request. After submitting your request, you are ready to visit L. Tom Perry Special Collections! One of our Reference Assistants will greet you and review the Reading Room Rules with you. You will put your things in a locker and take a seat in the Reading Room. A reference assistant will give you 1-4 books at a time or 1 manuscript folder/box at a time. After you have finished your reasearch, return your materials to the Reference Assistant. You are then free to go!

What is the preferred citation for Special Collections?

If you are using images, please use this credit line with the image:

Courtesy, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.

For citations of manuscript collections use:

Author(s), collection title(s), MSS, UA, or FA no. including box, folder, and item number, if available, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

If reference is cited more than once, an abbreviation may be used thereafter.

Can I take photos of materials?

Please read and agree to our Camera Use policy. Then talk to a member or the reference staff, who will give you a Digital Camera Pass to use in the Reading Room.

Are there scanners available for patron use?

No, there are no scanners available for Special Collections materials.

Other options are to take digital photos adhering to our digital camera policy or pay for digital scans (see fee schedule).

Does Special Collections scan outside items?

We cannot scan any material that did not originate in Special Collections. Special Collections does not want to be responsible for the damage or loss of personal materials.

If you are able to come into the library, you can copy your own materials in other portions of the library.

  • Family History (2nd floor) has an overhead, flat top and sheet feeder/scanner and slide scanner available for patron use.
  • Learning Commons (3rd floor) has a Bookeye 4 scanner and flatbed scanners for use with a campus card.
  • Makerspace (4th floor) can scan large flat items such as maps and 3D objects.

Can I publish photos or documents found in Special Collections?

L. Tom Perry Special Collections does not charge any use fees for publication. However, we ask researchers to add a courtesy line for Special Collections. Please also remember that in many cases, L. Tom Perry Special Collections is not the copyright holder and researchers are responsible to get permission from the corresponding copyright holder. Click here for more information.

I want to upload copies or images from Special Collections to Family Search. What should I do?

A curator must give permission to upload documents to FamilySearch. Find their contact information here.

Can I bring a group into Special Collections?

We are happy to accomodate group presentations. Please reach out to Gordon Daines ( to coordinate the details of your visit.

Does Special Collections provide tours?

No, Special Collections does not provide tours. We do provide presentations for groups. Please contact Gordon Daines ( to coordinate a presentation time.

Should I wear gloves?

For rare books and other fragile materials, gloves are not recommended. Gloves reduce tactile sensitivity and increase clumsiness. Hand sanitizer is available if there is a concern about hand oils and dirt.

Cotton gloves are available for handling photographs. Hand oils will damage the image and leave fingerprints. Simply ask staff for a pair of gloves when handling photographs.

I want to donate something. What should I do?

Special Collections Reference staff cannot accept donations. Please contact a curator over the collecting area of your potential donation.

I want to learn about how to conserve a family heirloom, book, diary, etc. Who can I talk to?

The library has its own conservation department that will be able to offer their expertise. Please reach out to Christopher McAfee (801-422-3746 or for conservation information.