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Archives and Special Collections Plan Your Visit: Home

What to Bring

Pencils, notebooks, laptops, tablets, cameras and camera phones are all welcome in the Archives and Special Collections Reading Room.

Please leave jackets, bags, laptop cases, folders, pens, food (including gum and hard candy) and drinks in a designated area.

Tips for a Successful Trip to Archives and Special Collections

Before you arrive:

  • Make sure you understand your assignment before you pick a general topic
  • Review finding aids and know which items you want to work with in advance
  • Familiarize yourself with the entirety of this guide 

When you arrive:

  • It will take 15-30min to get registered and set up with materials--factor this time in when planning your visit
  • Be prepared to tell the staff the collection AND box you'd like to work with
  • Give yourself enough time to make mistakes and change the direction of your research
  • For each source you consider, record the collection, call number, box, and folder it came from

When you get home:

  • Organize your sources and notes, then consider: How are the sources you've found related? What questions do you still have? What details are you still fuzzy on? What sources could you consult to answer those questions?
  • Take notes about which folders/items you still want to review

When in doubt sent us an email: libarchives@bu.edu

Due to an abundance of caution surrounding COVID-19, Archives and Special Collections will be open by appointment only Monday through Friday until further notice. Please contact libarchives@bsu.edu to schedule an appointment. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your patience during this time. Online resources will continue to be available to all users through the Digital Media Repository, Cardinal Scholar and our Collections Database.

Ball State University Libraries Archives & Special Collections acquires, preserves, and provides access to rare and unique primary sources and archival material that support the research and instructional needs of students, faculty, national and international scholars, and the general public.

Archives and Special Collections is open to the Ball State university community and the public.

If you wish to contact us in advance of your visit via email at libarchives@bsu.edu we can better assist in discussing your research and the collections that are of interest.

Hours, Location, and Parking

Our Reading Room is located on the 2nd floor of Bracken Library.

We are open Monday – Friday, 8:00 am 6:00 pm during the academic year.

We strongly recommend that you contact us in advance of your visit, especially during the academic year, when we sometimes have scheduled class visits in our reading room. 

During the summer, we are open Monday – Friday 7:30 am to 4:30 pm

During spring and winter break, we are open Monday-Friday 8 am to 5pm

Additional Bracken Library hours information can be found here: https://www.bsu.edu/academics/libraries/visit-study/hours 


The Drawings + Documents Archive is located in the Architecture Building, first floor, Room AB120.  

During the semester, we are open Monday-Thursday from 8am to 5pm and Friday by Appointment Only.

Summer Hours are by Appointment Only. 


For parking information please visit Ball State University Parking Services https://www.bsu.edu/about/administrativeoffices/parking-services

We recommended parking in the McKinley Parking garage.

Reading room procedures

To ensure the wellbeing of our collection for future generations to access, we ask that researchers abide by the following guidelines.  

General Guidelines

  • Researchers will be asked to complete a registration form before handling material.
  • All material must be used in the Archives and Special Collections Reading Room. Material does not circulate.

Reading Room Guidelines

  • Eating and drinking is not permitted in the reading room at any time.
  • Personal material should be stored in a designated area, this included coats, bags, briefcases, notebooks, papers, and laptop cases, while using ASC material.
  • Use of pencils only while working with material. 
  • Use of laptops, electronic tablets, and IPads is permitted in the Reading Room.
  • Use of cell phone or digital cameras (with no flash) is permitted for research needs.
  • Use of tables and computers are for Reading Room researcher’s use only.
  • Use of personal scanners is not permitted.

Care and Handling of Archives and Special Collections Material

  • Researchers should handle material with care. Books are to be placed in cradles. Archival and manuscript material must remain in original order. Placement markers are provided for this purpose. If material appears to be missing or out of order, do not rearrange; please notify ASC staff members. 
  • No marks may be added or erased from any ASC material.
  • Note-taking must be performed on the table and not on the documents themselves.
  • Material should remain on the table during use.
  • Researchers may request more than one box or volume of material at a time, but use may be restricted to one unit at a time.
  • Researchers should remove only one folder at a time from boxes.
  • Gloves are required for handling photographs that are not in sleeves. Gloves may be required for handling other items at the discretion of the ASC staff members.
  • Researchers should not open sealed envelopes, separate attached papers, remove staples, or cut, tear, or slice material (including uncut pages). Ask for assistance if it is needed.
  • Consult with ASC staff members prior to handling items that are fragile.

Photocopying and Digitization Services 

  • Photocopying of Archives and Special Collections material is permitted unless items are too fragile or rare. Ask for assistance if it is needed. Photocopies are subject to all copyright laws and restrictions.
  • Archives and Special Collections may digitize material upon request, subject to condition of the item and copyright laws. Digitization is determined on a case by case basis. Fees may apply. For more information, contact Archives and Special Collections at libarchives@bsu.edu or 765-285-5078.

Reading Room privileges may be limited or withdrawn for failure to comply with this protocol.