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Special Collections

Access Update

We are open by appointment only. Appointments are limited, but we will do our best to accommodate your research needs.

  • You may submit a request through the online catalog (see below) or contact directly.
  • Visitors must complete a Campus Daily Screener (for WSU affiliates) or Guest Campus Screener.
  • Please arrive on time as staffing is scheduled around your appointment. Because staffing is limited, we may not be able to accommodate late arrivals.
  • A staff member will greet you at the front doors of the Walter P. Reuther Library and check your Campus Daily Screener confirmation.
  • All visitors must wear a mask to enter the building and at all times during their visit.
  • Restrooms are located outside of the Reading Room. Before touching materials, wash hands thoroughly. Alcohol-based sanitizers can damage documents.
  • Please do not travel to the library if you have not received an appointment confirmation email from us. If you are not feeling well, we are happy to reschedule your appointment for everyone’s safety.

Adapted from the Walter P. Reuther Library's Appointment Details 2021.


Q. How do I access Special Collections material?
A. Find an item or collection in the online catalog. From the item record, click the Request from Special Collections button and fill in the request form. Alternatively, you may email your request to Special Collections. We will contact you when your material is ready for use in the reading room.

Q. Can I use Special Collections material in a class?
A. Absolutely! The Special Collections Team will work with instructors to showcase relevant Special Collections material in any level course. Additionally, students are welcome to consult Special Collections for their research and coursework.

Q. Does Special Collections accept donations?
A. Special Collections accepts monetary gifts and gifts-in-kind. For more information, contact Special Collections.

Q. Are my books "rare?"
A. According to federal law, Wayne State University Library System staff will not provide appraisals for books or artifacts. Your Old Books, produced by the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) may help if you are analyzing the content of your collection.

Q. I have more preservation questions. Can you help?
A. If you are looking for more detailed information on specific problems, the free Preservation Leaflets available from the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) may address your questions.

Preservation Resources

Civil War era letters from the Van Riper family

While we can't care for your treasures, we can offer advice. There is a wealth of information online describing best practices for protecting books and other artifacts in your collections; however,  it is wise to look for information from institutions that have proven expertise in conservation practices. We suggest the following sources to find information on storage and handling, disaster preparedness and response, and treatment of damaged books.