Using Special Collections

We welcome inquiries from all users, regardless of affiliation. Researchers can get in touch with Special Collections reference professionals using the contact us form on our website. Staff are also available Monday – Friday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm via telephone (843-953-8016) and email (specialcollections@cofc.edu). Researchers can also explore collections via our Discovery Service, the Lowcountry Digital Library, our Finding Aids Database, or through various Research Guides.

The Special Collections Reading Room is open to the members of the College of Charleston Community, SC Historical Society, and the public BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. To submit a request for an on-site appointment, reach out to Special Collections at https://speccoll.cofc.edu/about/contact-us/.

Visitors to our reading room are required to observe the following rules and guidelines:

REGISTRATION: On-site researchers are required to register prior to a scheduled visit. Once an appointment is confirmed, staff will send along a link to our registration form.

PERSONAL BELONGINGS: Coats, bags, and other personal items should be placed in the designated areas. Researchers may bring a laptop computer, limited loose sheets of paper, mobile devices on silent settings, and digital cameras to the table. Only staff-approved books and notebooks can be used at the table. Pens are not permitted in the reading room. Pencils and note paper will be provided upon request. Researchers are responsible for the security of equipment and other materials they bring into the reading room. Staff may examine laptops, notes, and other items when researchers exit the reading room.

EATING and DRINKING: Food and beverages are strictly prohibited.

CIRCULATION: Special Collections and South Carolina Historical Society materials do not circulate beyond the reading room. Materials cannot be checked out and must be used during Special Collections’ public hours. Under no circumstances may researchers remove collection material from the reading room.

MATERIAL LIMITS and MAINTAINING ORIGINAL ORDER: Researchers may use either one volume or one folder at a time. In the case of manuscript or archival material, original order must be maintained. Do not remove items from a folder or shift the order of items in a folder.

HANDLING of MATERIALS: All materials must be handled with care. Do not: mark material or erase existing marks; use pens, markers or high-lighters on or near materials; fold, tear or cut documents; make tracings or rubbings; rest books or other objects on the surface of items; touch the surface of loose sheets or book pages if they can be handled by their edges. All materials must be returned to reading room staff at the time of departure.

PUBLICATION and CITATION REQUIREMENTS: Footnotes should cite the author, title, and date of a work, the name of the collection, and the repository (either College of Charleston Special Collections or the South Carolina Historical Society). Examples are available. Patrons assume all responsibility for adhering to existing copyright restrictions. Anyone contemplating publication of unpublished materials must obtain permission from the author or owner of literary rights. If permission is granted, the researcher must give appropriate credit to the Special Collections Department of the College of Charleston. The Special Collections Department assumes no responsibility in cases of infringement.

WE ARE FRIENDLY! Don’t hesitate to ask our staff for any help or direction you may need!