Skip to Main Content

Special Collections

Frequently Asked Questions

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. Is there a difference between rare books and special collections?

A. Rare books are defined as printed books or manuscripts that, because of age, uniqueness, monetary or historic value, scarcity or limited/nonexistent holdings elsewhere, are housed separately from the circulating collections in a secure location.

Special collections are identified groups of library holdings that have been arranged by theme, provenance, format, or subject comprehensiveness/intentional groupings. Special collections are usually housed separately from the general collections, but may be distributed throughout the general collections and intellectually grouped through guides, finding aids, or catalog access. Rare books may be part of a special collection.

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.

We also suggest the following sources to find information on storage and handling, disaster preparedness and response, and treatment of damaged books.