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Frequently Asked Questions
PLEASE NOTE: Current University guidelines prohibit the in-person use of Special Collections materials by anyone other than Georgetown University students, faculty and staff who have been approved to be on campus. The Department’s librarians, archivists and curators can provide support for research and instruction in the form of reference services, virtual instruction sessions (using materials) and selective digitization of items. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your query.
Visiting the Booth Family Center for Special Collections
Q: Where is the Booth Family Center for Special Collections located?
A: We are on the fifth floor of the Joseph Mark Lauinger Memorial Library, located on the corner of 37th and Prospect Streets. You can find detailed information on our Maps and Directions page
Q: Why isn’t the Booth Family Center for Special Collections open on weekends?
A: Staffing levels and security procedures prevent us from extending our operating hours beyond the regular workday. If you absolutely cannot find a way to be here during the week, please contact us and we will work with you to explore other options for meeting your research needs.
Q: How can I set up an appointment to view materials in Special Collections?
A: If you know what materials you want to work with, please login into our online request system, Aeon, and fill out the information. One of our staff will be in touch with you to set up an appointment. Note that many of our materials are stored offsite, and may take two to three days to retrieve for your use.
If you would like to get more information on the materials we may have on your research subject, please fill out our information request form, and the appropriate curator will be in contact with you to discuss your project.
Q: What is the best way to contact Special Collections?
A: Please start with our “Contact Special Collections” page.
Q: I know there is artwork from the University Art Collection throughout campus. Can you tell me where public displays are located?
A: Five signature works are on permanent display in Carroll Parlor on the first floor of Healy Hall and other works for the collection are on display in buildings across campus.
There are rotating displays of contemporary art in the Maria & Alberto de la Cruz Art Gallery in the Walsh building, 1221 36th St. NW. These, however, are not part of Georgetown's permanent art collection.
Q: I have no connection to Georgetown. Can I visit the Booth Family Center for Special Collections?
A: Yes. You will need a valid government-issued photo ID to enter Lauinger Library.
Q: How can I use materials from your collections?
A: Our materials are available from 9-5 Monday-Friday in the Paul F. Betz Reading Room, excluding University holidays. The Booth Family Center for Special Collections uses the Aeon request management system for all patron registration and materials requests. Please visit aeon.library.georgetown.edu to create an account and begin requesting materials. Be advised, many of our materials are stored offsite and require one to two business days to be retrieved. Visit our Contact Us page for more information about what materials are stored offsite.
Q: How can I best see what is in your collections?
A: If you would like a broad overview of our collections, browse our Descriptive Catalog. If your search is specific or you would like to browse our online finding aids, visit our Search page.
Materials in the Library’s principal collections, including books and articles, can be searched using HoyaSearch.
Q: Can I take materials out of Special Collections?
A: No. Our materials may only be used in the Paul F. Betz Reading Room.
Q: Can I browse the Special Collections? I’d like to see everything you have.
A: Our materials are not physically browseable. They are housed in climate-controlled areas both on- and off-site. You can get an overview of the scope of our collections from our Descriptive Catalog. Many of the works in the University Art Collection have digital images associated with listings in the Art Database. Descriptions of many collections in the University Archives and Manuscripts Unit are provided by our finding aids. And our Rare Book Collections are listed in the Library Catalog--just restrict your search to the Booth Family Center for Special Collections.
Q: How can I identify relevant materials in my subject area/related to my research topic?
A: You can get an overview of the scope of our collections from our Descriptive Catalog. Descriptions of many collections in the University Archives and Manuscripts Unit are provided by our finding aids. Our Rare Book Collections are listed in the Library Catalog--just restrict your search to the Booth Family Center for Special Collections. Further help and suggestions, once you have done some initial exploration, is available from staff. Just fill out our information request form, and the appropriate curator will be in contact with you to discuss your project.
Q: What does it mean if a collection is marked “restricted”?
A: Restricted materials are not available for general research. A donor may give us their collection for safekeeping, but ask that the collection be restricted for a period of time, perhaps for the lifetime of persons who are mentioned in it. Some collections may be partially open for research, but certain portions will be restricted because they contain sensitive information. Some of our intelligence materials may be deemed sensitive for certain time period before being released for general research.
Q: What can I bring into the Paul F. Betz Reading Room?
A: You may bring in a camera, cellphone (set to silent or vibrate), laptop, loose leaf paper, pencils, and USB drives. Pencils are available in the Reading Room.
You may NOT bring in coat/jackets, hats, scarves, gloves; bags, purses, and pouches; notebooks, note pads, binders, and folders; stick-on notes; drinks (including water bottles); food; chewing gum; pens, markers, and highlighters; containers of any kind including folders.
Q: How do I know if a collection is housed offsite and will need time to be recalled?
A: For rare books, you can determine the location by looking at the record in HoyaSearch - location will either indicate “Booth Family Center for Special Collections’ or "Off-Campus Shelving - Request in Special Collections." For other materials, please Ask us.
Q: Can I take my own photos of items in Special Collections?
A: You can take your own non-flash photos of most of the materials in our collections. The staff member you are working with will be able to tell you about specific restrictions.
Photographs of copyrighted materials must fall within the fair use exception. If you are considering using Special Collections materials beyond personal research and study, please read our Special Collections Copyright Information and our general copyright information
Q: I’m going to be working with material over the course of a few days. Can my material be held for me?
A: Yes. We have held materials for several months for researchers working on major projects.
Q: Do I need to wear gloves to work with Special Collections materials?
A: We recommend using gloves (and will supply them) when you are working with photographs and artwork. We do not recommend gloves when you are working with documents and books.
Q: When I finish my research in the Paul F. Betz Reading Room, what do I do?
A: Bring your materials back to the staff member in the Reading Room, and let them know you are leaving for the day. As you leave, make sure you retrieve your ID from the staff member at the front reception desk.
Q: I want to see artwork from the University Art Collection that is not on display. How can I do that?
A: Please contact the Art Collection curators, who will be happy to help you.
Q: I understand that the Booth Center has a Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation collection. How can I see that?
A: The Archives of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus are on deposit at Georgetown University Library in the care of the Booth Family Center for Special Collections. Access guidelines for the materials are detailed here. Selected materials relating to SMR have been digitized and can be seen on the Georgetown Slavery Archive site. That site is a project of Georgetown University's Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation initiative.
Q: I am a GU faculty member. Can I bring a class in to view materials from your collections?
A: The Barbara Ellis Jones (C’1974) Inquiry Classroom is part of the recently renovated Booth Family Center for Special Collections. Contact Us to talk to one of our curators about bringing your students in to see and work with our materials.
Q: How can I order publication quality reproductions? And how can I obtain permission to publish?
A: Please read our Reproductions FAQ. The Booth Family Center for Special Collections does not hold copyright to the materials in our collections, and therefore cannot grant permission for publication. Identifying the rightsholder and obtaining necessary copyright permissions is the sole responsibility of the researcher. To learn more about requesting permission, read our Requesting Permissions page.
Q: What is your preferred citation format?
A: Specific citations are available in our finding aids by clicking the “Citation” button in the upper righthand corner.
Citations for the University Art Collection should include the following information: Georgetown University Art Collection, Booth Family Center for Special Collections, Washington, D.C.
Standard book citation information is available from rare book catalog entries in the Library Catalog.
Q: What do I need to know in terms of copyright when using your materials in publishing?
A: Please read our Special Collections--Copyright Information page.
Q: I want to use Special Collections material in a film project/news story. How can I arrange that and who should I contact?
A: Media requests for Special Collections materials should begin with Georgetown University’s Office of Strategic Communications.
Q: I have an idea for a Library exhibition. Can I propose it?
A: Yes. You can tell us about your exhibition idea here.
Q: Do you have past exhibitions online?
A: Visit our Past Exhibitions page to see many of our past exhibitions, as far back to 1976. Earlier exhibitions may not contain images, only text.
Q: How can I donate materials to Special Collections? What types of materials do you accept as donations?
A: Please see our Booth Center giving page for information on gifts. Regarding gifts of rare books, manuscript, or primary source materials please contact Keith Gorman, Director, Booth Family Center for Special Collections. Regarding gifts to the University Art Collection please contact LuLen Walker, Art Collection Curator.
Q: How do I make a monetary donation to support the Library’s collections and services?
A: For information on giving opportunities, visit our Library Giving Opportunities page.