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Jean & Alexander Heard Libraries

Special Collections
and University Archives

COVID-19 Policies

Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) is reopening by appointment starting August 24, 2020!

SCUA has never stopped providing online reference and digitization services, and we are now pleased to announce that we will be reopening our reading room to members of the Vanderbilt community by appointment.

You’ll find we have expanded and improved access to our collection resources over the summer. In all we do, we follow University protocol to enhance the safety of our spaces. This page provides important information that will make your next visit to Special Collections and University Archives a success.


Hours of Operation

Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm.

During the fall semester some classes will be held in Special Collections that may affect the availability for appointments. Please keep this in mind as you plan your visit, and we thank you in advance for your flexibility.


What to know before you make an appointment

  • We are only able to take appointments from current VU and VUMC students, faculty, staff, and VU-affiliated researchers at this time. If you don’t fall into one of those categories, please contact us directly at specialcollections@vanderbilt.edu to see if we can assist you remotely.
  • For the safety of staff and researchers, the number of researchers allowed in the reading room will be limited. Researchers and staff will be required to wear masks/cloth face coverings at all times.
  • Appointments will be scheduled in two-hour research blocks. You may book up to two sessions per day.
  • One researcher is allowed at each table. Each table will be thoroughly sanitized before and after use.
  • Researchers must maintain social distancing of six feet.
  • Please allow 48 hours' notice when making appointments. Many of our materials are shelved offsite and require sufficient time for safe retrieval and access. If you need an exception, contact specialcollections@vanderbilt.edu.
  • We are unable to offer on-site photocopying services at this time. You may use your cell phone or a digital camera to take photos (without flash) of materials.

How to make an appointment

  • Complete our registration form.
  • Email us at specialcollections@vanderbilt.edu to start the conversation about your research needs. Let us know your research topic, what items interest you, and/or if you need help identifying materials. Please tell us if you expect to require multiple visits so we can discuss your options.
  • Do not travel to the library until you’ve received an email confirming your appointment and requests.

On the day of your appointment

  • Please wash and dry your hands thoroughly before entering the reading room. Hand sanitizer will be available, but hands must be completely dry before touching any materials.
  • Visitors will enter through the second floor of the Central Library and exit through the terrace doors.
  • Researchers will need to present a valid photo ID or Vanderbilt ID.
  • You may bring the following with you into the reading room:
    • Laptop (without bag or sleeve)
    • Cell phone (set to vibrate or silent)
    • Camera
    • Pencils
    • Loose leaf paper
  • Please note, once you have confirmed you are finished looking at materials, they will be placed in isolation for 72 hours and will not be accessible again until the quarantine period is complete.

Book a Class

Special Collections Librarians are available to provide online instruction and assist in designing assignments using our digital collections and digitized items. If you are interested in bringing your class to Special Collections, fill out our request form, or contact either Teresa Gray or Rachel Lavenda directly.



Anchor Down: Our Libraries Are Counting on You.

Anchor Down, Mask Up: Wear a face mask/covering in the libraries.

Anchor Down, Back Up: Maintain 6 feet of physical distance from others.

Anchor Down, Wash Up: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Anchor Down, Check Up: Monitor yourself daily for COVID-19 symptoms.