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Special Collections Services

Student presenting in Special Collections

Special Collections offers our researchers an array of services to facilitate collection use. Our staff is happy to assist researchers and classes in how to identify and use materials.

Special Collections is a closed-stack library facility. All requested materials are paged by staff for use in the reading room. The reading room is equipped with tables, outlets, and wifi access. A public computer terminal is available for accessing in-house databases, searching the Five College Library Catalog, the Five College Finding Aids Database, and other online resources. For more information, see Visiting Special Collections.


Special Collections engages students and faculty in a variety of ways. We host over 100 class session per year, many with embedded course requirements and historically spread across more than 30 academic disciplines and departments at Smith. Those numbers double when classes are hosted as part of the Five Colleges, general community, and unique Smith programs are also considered. Our collections serve many functions so that we may deepen understanding of the College’s history, promote the use of rare books and manuscripts, and advance dynamic narratives of women’s history. For more information, see Instruction.

Research Consultations

Reference services are a core part of Special Collections work. Our staff is readily available to provide one-to-one consultation on research projects at any stage of the research process. During the transition period, June 2017-September 2020, researchers are strongly encouraged to speak with a staff member prior to their visit to ensure timely access to the materials. All Special Collections materials are housed on campus, but as some are located in remote campus storage, 48-hour notice is required to facilitate access. For more information, see Visit Special Collections. For questions about research or arranging a visit, please email us at

Rights & Reproductions

The mission, vision and values of Special Collections affirms our primary goal of making collections accessible to anyone with interest. Within these principles, Special Collections also balances long-term care of the materials, intellectual property rights, and issues of privacy and confidentiality. Information about our practices and guidelines, including fees, can be found on Rights and Reproductions.

Records Management

Records are evidence of what an institution does. Records have the ability to capture the activities and transactions of an organization and are assets to those that use them. Effective records management ensures that information has value and importance is retrievable, authentic and accurate. Records come in many different forms: paper, electronic, website, and databases. If you are a member of the Smith community, faculty or staff, we encourage you to read about the Smith College records management policy.

Research Fellowships

Smith College Special Collections is pleased to offer a research support program of fellowships and awards in support of the use of the collections. The bulk of our available funding subsidizes travel to use the collections and include long-term fellowships and short-term travel grants. There are also funding opportunities available to the Smith College community that encourage exploration of the collections and support of student internships and research. See Special Collections Research Fellowships.