Kislak Center reader services

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Accessing the Kislak Center Collections

The Kislak Center's Charles K. MacDonald Reading Room is open by appointment to all researchers. Appointments are available on weekdays between the hours of 10am-4pm and must be made 24 hours in advance by emailing

When entering the Library, Penn-affiliated visitors must show a Green Penn Open Pass. Visitors from outside the Penn community must complete a COVID-19 screening through PennOpen Campus (learn how it works). The University requests that visitors not come physically to campus if they feel ill, have been exposed to a case of COVID-19, or if they are not up-to-date with their vaccinations.

To support remote access to our collections, we offer increased reprographic services. Users may request on-demand digitization of special collections material for up to 100 pages for free, depending on the condition of the material and any copyright restrictions. Requests can be submitted via the Special Collections Research Account form. For more information, please contact:

Registration & Policies

Upon entering the reading room reception area, please show the receptionist a current, valid photographic ID. Your ID card will be held at the reception desk during your visit. If you are visiting for the first time, you must register online to create a Special Collections Research Account before requesting any materials. To save time at the reading room, patrons may choose to register online before visiting.

All personal belongings must be stored in designated areas.

Laptop computers and small cameras may be brought into the reading room. Pencils and paper for notes will be available. All other items, such as pens, highlighters, markers, tripods, and flatbed or hand scanners are not allowed. Flash photography is prohibited. All items being brought into the reading room will be inspected by the receptionist before you enter and again as you leave.

Absolutely no food or drink is allowed in the reading room or adjacent study rooms.

All cell phones should be left on silent mode. We ask that patrons refrain from talking on cell phones while they are in the reading room.

Requesting and Reserving Materials

Collection materials in the Kislak Center and other special collections in the libraries should be requested in advance whenever possible using a Special Collections Research Account. Once you have created and logged into your account, you may request materials directly from our catalog and finding aids. Staff on site will be available to answer any questions and provide assistance. Staff will endeavor to deliver onsite materials promptly, but may limit the number of items you can request or consult at one time. Special collections materials may only be used in the reading room.

Some of our collections are stored offsite and retrieval may take at least one business day. Consult one of our staff members or contact us via email to determine if the materials you need are stored offsite.

For quicker access on return visits, you may place materials on hold. Materials that have not been consulted for over two weeks will be reshelved.

Handling Materials

We ask that researchers arrive in the reading room with clean hands; restrooms are located nearby. Staff will provide instruction on the proper handling of collection materials. For book requests, book cradles and weights will be provided. For manuscript requests, please retain the order of the materials contained in the box or folder and keep each manuscript flat on the reading room table as you work with it. Readers may only consult one box or one folder of manuscript materials at a time. Any questions about the condition or handling of specific items should be directed to staff.

Copyright Restrictions

Researchers must make a written request to the Penn Libraries for permission to publish any materials from its special collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure any necessary additional permission from the appropriate copyright holder to quote, publish, or reproduce items from Penn's special collections, and to acknowledge in print that the materials are used or published with permission of the University of Pennsylvania. The University of Pennsylvania assumes no responsibility for copyright violations or for any other legal issues resulting from the use or publication of special collections materials.

Please direct all permissions questions and requests to