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Research Appointment

Vershbow Special Collections Reading Room

The Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow Special Collections Reading Room is available for appointments:

Tuesdays - Fridays, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
In addition to Library closings,  the special collections room is closed Wednesday, November 21, 2018, through Friday, November 23, 2018, and the afternoon of Friday, November 30,as well as from December 25, through December 28, 2018.
Materials cannot be retrieved after 3 p.m.
Rare materials are viewed in the Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow Special Collections Room by appointment only. Click here for an online form where you can make your request. We need AT LEAST a business day’s notice when requesting an appointment, and we always confirm by email.
Research in Special Collections   
For general descriptions of the Special Collections at the Boston Athenæum, please see the individual webpages under the heading “Collections.” To search for particular items, please use our online catalog Athena, which is also available on every page of this website. The Athenæum welcomes not only members but also guest researchers who need to use rare materials; circulating items are for member use only. If you have any questions about particular items, please submit a request and reference librarians will let you know if it can be studied in the reading room.
 What to expect when you arrive
  • You will be asked to check coats, umbrellas, briefcases, laptop cases, and large bags at the Security Desk. No bags of any kind, no loose clothing or coats are allowed in the Reading Room.
  • Guest researchers must show a picture ID
  • All researchers will be asked to fill out a brief application.
  • Laptops are welcome; otherwise, only pencil is allowed. No notebooks, folders, etc. may be brought in. Paper will be supplied if wanted.
  • Please turn off all cell phones and dispose of food and drink before entering. The use of cameras, scanners, and recording devices will be decided on a case by case basis by the appropriate curator when requested prior to the appointment.
  • Guidelines for the Use of Special Collections
Photocopying and Photographic Services 
  • Photocopying can damage library materials and many items are simply too fragile to be photocopied. Generally, photocopying special collections materials is not permitted, though exceptions may be considered on a case by case basis by the appropriate curator.
  • Scanners, digital cameras and related equipment are also considered on a case by case basis and requires prior approval by the appropriate curator.
  • Click here for photographic services
Permissions and Copyright 
  • Permission to consult the Special Collections does not include permission to publish or quote from material contained therein. Application for permission to publish or quote from the collections of the Boston Athenæum must be made in writing, with the understanding that the Boston Athenæum does not necessarily hold the copyright to the material. 
  • Permission to publish from unpublished works under copyright must be obtained in advance from the holder of the copyright. The researcher assumes full legal responsibility for observing copyright law and all laws respecting the literary property rights of the donors or creators (their heirs or assigns) of special collections materials. Laws against libel and invasion of privacy may also apply. Researchers assume full responsibility for any legal questions that may arise as a result of their use of materials in the collections. The Boston Athenæum will not be responsible for any infringement of copyright or the violation of any other law, rule or regulation by researchers.