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Special Collections Policy

Special Collections Access Policy

This policy covers all materials housed in the Library’s Special Collections area.  This collection includes Town Annual Reports, Resident Lists, books by Belmont authors, historical vital records, public documents, and other items deemed by the Reference Department to be historically significant, or pertinent to the Town of Belmont and its residents.

Patrons may request Special Collections materials for viewing in the Reference room, near the public service desk.  It is the responsibility of Reference staff to retrieve requested materials from the Special Collections area.  Patrons are not allowed to browse this collection, except in special circumstances, by appointment.  See Appointments to Browse Special Collections, below.

At times, staff may determine that an item is too delicate for viewing, and deny access.  If a microfilm or digital copy exists, patrons may be required to consult the copy, rather than the original.  Access to Special Collections materials may be denied, if patrons engage in behavior that could cause damage to materials they are viewing.

Conditions for Viewing Materials:

  • Patrons requesting Special Collections materials must sign the Sign-in Sheet at the Reference desk, and leave either a valid photo ID, or valid Minuteman Library Network library card with Reference staff.
  • At one time, patrons may view up to 3 manuscripts, or 3 rolls of microfilm, or 1 archival box, or 1 rolling-cart shelf of bound reference periodicals.
  • All materials are due back to the Reference desk one half hour before the Library’s closing time.
  • All special collections materials must be handled with care. Materials must remain on the viewing table during use.  They are not to be placed in the lap or propped against the table edge.  It is not permitted to lay any object on top of Special Collections material (e.g. laying one book on another to prop it open).
  • Pens, and writing in or on materials, are not allowed.
  • Food, drink, and chewing gum are not allowed.
  • Briefcases, backpacks, and other bags are not allowed at the viewing table.
  • Paper and pencils, a small purse or wallet, and mobile devices, such as a phone or laptop computer are permitted.


Photographing an item is allowed, so long as the item will not sustain damage in the process of being photographed.


Photocopying is allowed if the material is in good enough condition to withstand the handling.  Patrons must ask Reference staff in advance, if they may photocopy an item.  Reference staff will determine when an item is too delicate to photocopy.


It is the responsibility of the patron to understand and comply with relevant copyright law.

Appointments to Browse Special Collections:

To accommodate special circumstances, patrons may request an appointment to browse the Special Collections area.   In such cases, patrons will be accompanied by a Reference staff member while browsing.

Adopted January 2018

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