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Jean & Alexander Heard Libraries

Special Collections
and University Archives

About Special Collections

Reading Room

Welcome to the Special Collections Library at Vanderbilt University! The mission of Special Collections is to preserve, store, and provide access to Vanderbilt University's impressive collection of rare books, manuscripts, photographs, memorabilia, and institutional archives.

Special Collections supplies primary resource material to a variety of local, national, and international scholars each year. It houses one of the finest twentieth-century Southern literature collections in the United States and is the center for the study of the Fugitive and Agrarian literary groups. Other popular subjects include Southern history and culture, women's issues, civil rights, religious studies, performing arts, and Latin American history, especially Colombian and Afro-Colombian history. Our Collection Development policy further details collecting areas.

For information about our other distinctive collections, please visit the Collections Overview page.


Research Visits

The Special Collections reading room is open by appointment. To book an appointment, please contact us by email at  Please see our Visit Us page for more information.


Using our Materials

Special Collections welcomes researchers to use our rich collections. All of our materials may only be viewed in the reading room of Special Collections in the Central Library building. We ask that you request materials you may be interested in at least 2-3 days in advance, as many of our materials are stored in an off-site repository.

The Visit Us page has more specific information on where we are located and how to find us.


Publication Policy for Library Materials

In order to reduce barriers to the dissemination of research conducted in its collections, the Special Collections and University Archives will ordinarily not set conditions on publication of materials from its collections in connection with scholarship.

In most cases, Special Collections and University Archives owns only the physical materials and therefore does not assume any responsibility for literary property, copyright, or any other legal issues involved in the publication and reproduction of items in its collections. It is the responsibility of the user to secure permission from the appropriate copyright holder or to rely on fair use rights. Any copyright infringement which may occur through the use of our material is the responsibility of the patron. Please contact the director of Special Collections and University Archives for additional questions about publishing or reproducing materials in our collections.

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Finding Materials

There are a variety of ways to discover Special Collections material. Rare books may be found and requested by using the library’s online Catalog. All manuscript collections and publicly available University Archives collections are made discoverable through finding aids contained in ArchivesSpace. Finally, Vanderbilt Libraries also has an online database of Digital Collections that may be searched for materials.

For information on how to request items from our collections, please refer to the Request Materials page. For all other requests, feel free to contact us.