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Panoramic view of Special Collections Reading Room, Neilson Library

Visit Special Collections

Smith College Special Collections


The Gloria Steinem '56 Reading Room is open to everyone.


The Special Collections Reading Room is located on the 3rd floor of Neilson Library. See parking and directions information below.

Special Collections Reading Room Hours

(5/26) Sunday (5/27) Monday (5/28) Tuesday (5/29) Wednesday (5/30) Thursday (5/31) Friday (6/1) Saturday
Special Collections Reading Room Closed

Memorial Day

Memorial Day
10am - 4:45pm 10am - 4:45pm 10am - 4:45pm 10am - 4:45pm Closed

Before Your Visit

Community Agreements

Smith College Special Collections has developed a set of community agreements that seek to make the ways in which we are all interdependent on and accountable to each other more visible. We expect that researchers will join us in upholding these community agreements just as Special Collections staff will be accountable to researchers and to each other in this ongoing and evolving work. Please read through our community agreements in advance of your visit.

Book an Appointment

We strongly encourage all visiting researchers to make an appointment to view materials 24 hours in advance.

Book An Appointment

  • After you have reached the “confirmed” page at the end of the booking form, please confirm your appointment using the link emailed to you. After that, you are set for your visit and there is no need to confirm your appointment with us by additional emails.
  • You may cancel your appointment yourself via the link in your confirmation email.


Special Collections is committed to ensuring equal access for all visitors. See Reading Room Accessibility for more information.

Directions & Parking


Special Collections Reading Room 
Neilson Library 307 
7 Neilson Drive 
Northampton, MA 01063

Directions from Neilson Library's Main Entrance: Enter the main front entrance of Neilson Library, located on the east side of the building that faces Seelye lawn. Move into the first floor Central Hall and then turn right to locate the central elevator. Take this elevator to the third floor. Coming out of the elevator, turn right, then left and follow the signs to the Special Collections reading room. Download a floor-by-floor guide to Neilson Library.


Please use our visitor parking spaces around campus and in the parking garage, or seek City of Northampton parking options. Find parking on the campus map.

  • You may request a campus parking pass 48 hours (Monday through Friday) in advance of your visit from Facilities Management Customer Service. Please complete a request form and the pass will be emailed to you directly for you to print out.
  • There is metered parking available on Green Street. The meters accept quarters ($.75/per hour) or you can download the Northampton Parkmobile parking app and pay with a credit card.

Public Transit

PVTA: The closest PVTA stop is located in front of John M. Greene Hall, which is 600 feet from Neilson Library. This stop serves routes 39, 39E, R42, and B43.

Amtrak: The Northampton train station is less than a mile from Neilson library (approximately a 15 minute walk or 5 minute cab ride). Please note: we have limited, unsecured storage for luggage

Peter Pan and Greyhound: The bus terminals are in separate locations but are each about ½ mile from Neilson Library

What to Expect When You Arrive

When you arrive in our welcome area, you will be greeted by staff and, if you are a visiting researcher, given a keycard for a locker.

In the reading room, we welcome:

  • Silenced phones and cameras (for non-flash photography)
  • Notebooks
  • Pencils
  • Laptops and tablets

We ask that you leave the following items in your locker:

  • All food and drink
  • Bags of any kind
  • Outerwear
  • Umbrellas
  • Pens

The reading room is not a silent space and a conversational level of speech is welcome. If you need a deeper quiet, we have disposable earplugs for your use. Please do not make or take phone calls in the reading room.


  • All materials that can be used by researchers are held on-site, unless otherwise noted in the finding aid.
  • We do not page materials in advance of your visit. Upon your arrival in the reading room, you will complete paper call slips to request materials.
  • You may request up to two boxes or bound items to your table at a time. There is no limit to the number of boxes and items that can be requested during a single research visit.
  • Please note: We pull materials from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and we collect all materials beginning at 4:30 p.m

Reference Materials Available

The reading room houses a collection of college-related reference materials, including yearbooks, course catalogues, and issues of the student newspaper. These materials do not require paging.

Research Equipment

We have equipment in our reading room for researcher use, including:

  • iPads
  • Laptops
  • Hovercams
  • Tablet and phone stands
  • Chargers and cables

Digital Reproductions

Camera Use in the Reading Room

Smith College Special Collections encourages the use of personal digital cameras in the Reading Room to photograph materials under the following conditions:

  1. Non-flash photography of materials is allowed during your research. Special Collections has document cameras, iPads, and specialty lighting available for researchers on a first come basis.
  2. Fragile bound materials must be supported in a book cradle, with no pressure applied to bindings.
  3. Unbound materials can only be photographed lying flat on a research table; no copy-stands and unstapling.
  4. When handling photographs, wear gloves, which will be provided to you.
  5. Use of personal scanners or other equipment that may endanger the material is prohibited.
  6. Images may not be published in any way without written permission of the copyright holder. Images may not be changed, modified, or embellished without written permission of the copyright owner.
  7. Researchers can obtain a publication-quality image from Special Collections. Reproduction fees apply. See Digitization & Use for more information.

Visitors are welcome to take pictures of the reading room so long as they do not photograph any researchers in the space

Digitization & Use

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 Digitization & Use.