Accessing the Special Collections

Who Can Use the Collections?

Mills students, faculty, staff members, and outside scholars are welcome to use the Special Collections, including books, manuscripts, and archives. If you are a member of the Mills community, you are required to present your Mills College photo identification card in order to check out items for use in the Heller Rare Book Room. If you are an outside scholar, you will be asked to register with a drivers’ license or other photo identification card.


Materials do not circulate and may not be removed by the patron from the Heller Rare Book Room for any reason.

Reading Room Etiquette

  • Eating or drinking (including water) is prohibited in the Heller Rare Book Room.
  • Make sure your hands are clean.
  • Use pencil when taking notes (do not use ink). We are happy to loan you a pencil.
  • When you are finished with the material, return it to the reception desk. Please do not leave it on a reading room table or elsewhere. Materials can be held for the patron by arrangement.

How to Handle Materials

  • When using a book, support the front board with your hand or another object flat on the table. Turn the pages with care. Do not slide the book on the table; pick it up with both hands. Do not handle fragile materials when you are rushed.
  • When handling photographs, hold by the edges; do not touch the emulsion with your fingers.
  • Never put removable sticky notes on Special Collections material. The adhesive leaves a residue.


  • It is permissible to take photographs of the material for research/reference purposes.
  • Scanning material is at the discretion of the Special Collections Librarian and will be done by Special Collections staff. Condition and amount of material are taken into account.

Copyright & Permissions

Physical ownership of a document or book does not necessarily mean that the library owns the copyright. Patrons are responsible for requesting permission from copyright holders when appropriate.