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Special Collections and Rare Books

This guide is an introduction to Special Collections at Iowa State University.

What to Expect When you Visit

We are eager to assist you with your research so read on and prepare for your visit!

  • The materials available in the reading room do not circulate. Material must be viewed in the reading room during the hours we are open

  • Personal belongings are now allowed in the reading room, please see our policies and procedures for exceptions.

  • Special Collections & University materials are in closed stacks. Researchers must request items at the reference desk.

  • You can generally make copies, though there are exceptions (e.g., material is restricted from reproduction or too fragile). 

  • Bring a second layer of clothing. It can get chilly.

  • Feel free to contact us ahead of time with any questions. We are happy to assist you! 

Reading Room Guidelines

How to Get Here

Iowa State University Campus Map

Interactive map of ISU campus. Includes locations for parking lots.

Driving Directions

From Highway 30

  • Exit at University Boulevard (exit sign says Iowa State University).

  • Head north on University Boulevard passing Reiman Gardens, the football stadium, and Hilton Coliseum.

  • Turn left at the stoplight onto Lincoln Way and head west to the Memorial Union.

  • Paid parking is available in the Memorial Union Parking Ramp for a small fee. The parking ramp and the Memorial Union are on the right hand side of the street.

  • Free parking is available at the campus commuter lot located between the Jack Trice Stadium and the Hilton Coliseum. The shuttle stops directly in front of the library.

From Interstate 35

Exit at Highway 30 West (exit sign says Iowa State University). Then follow the directions above.

Contact us

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Special Collections & University Archives
403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University Library
Ames, IA 50011
515 294-6672

Contact us before you visit!

You will get access to the materials much faster if you contact the archives in advance. Here's why:

  • Off-site collections: Some of our collections are stored off site and staff will need time to retrieve them. We ask for 2 business days advance notice.
  • Related materials: Even if you have something specific you want to see (and know how to request it), we may have suggestions for other materials.
  • Check the holdings: As with most archives, many of our collections don't have detailed descriptions. If you're looking for a specific document or piece of information, contact the archives before making a trip so that you won't be disappointed if the collection doesn't have what you're looking for.
  • Research Help: We understand that using archives can be complicated. We know our collections and are truly happy to help!