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The Rubenstein Library reading room is open to the public.  Visiting researchers are encouraged to contact staff before planning a visit. Please delay your visit if you are experiencing any COVID-like symptoms. Check the Rubenstein Library’s website before your visit for the most up-to-date information.

Before you arrive

We recommend a consulting with a reference librarian prior to your visit to ensure that you get the most out of your time at the library.

Register as a researcher: This one-time researcher registration process is easy and also includes the creation of an online account. With this account, you'll be able to request material for use in our reading room or to be reproduced, and to track the status of your requests. 

Request the material you want to use: Submit your requests 4 full business days in advance of your visit. Most of our collections are stored at the Library Service Center, our off-site repository. Please note:  Restricted collections that need screening by staff my take longer than 4 days to be made available.  You will receive an email once your materials arrive on-site and are ready to be viewed. 

When you arrive

  • We will ask to see a Duke ID or other form of photo identification like a driver’s license or passport. 

  • We will need to take a photograph of you to include in your researcher account. This is required and allows us to confirm your identity each time you visit our reading room. Your photo will be confidential, and we will not share it.

What can you bring into the reading room?

  • Camera
  • Cellphone (set to silent or vibrate)
  • Laptop (without its sleeve or bag)
  • Loose leaf paper (desk staff will hole punch before entering the reading room)
  • Pencils
  • USB drive

We have lockers and locks that you can use to store your other belongings that cannot come into the reading room with you, such as:

  • Bags, purses, and pouches
  • Notebooks, note pads, binders, and folders
  • Drinks (including water bottles)
  • Food
  • Pens
  • Scanners
  • Lighting equipment

Inside the reading room

  • Ensure your hands are clean before you handle materials.
  • You must use materials in the reading room, as they do not circulate. 
  • You will be given one item at a time. When finished with an item, you can return it to staff at the circulation desk and they will bring you another one.  
  • Security cameras monitor the reading room at all times.
  • Staff will ask to inspect anything you bring into the reading room, such as a laptop or loose papers, as you leave the room. 
  • Filming and video requires advance notice and permission, review our filming policy for more information. 


The Rubenstein Library commits to providing a welcoming, inclusive, and accessible environment for researchers. 

The Rubenstein Library encourages use of its collections by all researchers. Access to collection material is available online through our digital collections repository, by submitting a reproduction request, or by viewing material in the Reading Room. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about physical access to the library, including parking, please contact us at several days in advance of your visit so that we can best assist you.


The Rubenstein Library can be entered through the tower to the right of the Chapel. Once you enter the building, the Rubenstein Library suite entrance will be directly in front of you. The building offers multi-stall restrooms on the ground floor and single stall restrooms on the lower level. The lower level can be reached through a stairwell or by elevator. 

The Rubenstein Reading Room includes a height-adjustable table, automatic door openers, adjustable chairs, armless chairs, and table lamps. 

Readers who need to work with specially-equipped machines, including text-to-speech, should contact to be sure of accommodations. Magnifying glasses, light boxes, USB drives, and book supports are available for users in the Reading Room. 

Security and Surveillance

The staff of the Rubenstein LIbrary are tasked with the safety and security of the special collections materials held by the library. 

We ensure the safety and security of the materials in the Reading Room by:

  • Educating researchers about the proper handling of materials. 
  • Disallowing food and drink in the Reading Room. 
  • Providing lockers to secure personal items. 
  • Continuous monitoring of the Reading Room with security cameras. 
  • Inspecting laptops and other items before leaving the Reading Room. 

Surveillance in the Reading Room is not intended to single out a group of people. Everyone who enters the Reading Room is subject to the same level of surveillance, including staff, who are asked to open their laptops and have their materials examined before leaving the Reading Room.

Making copies of library material 

  • Use one of our HoverCams, a high-resolution, standalone document camera. HoverCams attach to your Mac or Windows computer and allow you to save images directly to your laptop. 
  • Use the KIC Bookeye Scanner located at the front of the reading room. This scanner allows you to email files to yourself or save the files to a USB drive. 
  • Use your camera or camera phone to snap digital photos of materials.
  • For high-resolution scans, audiovisual material, or material that requires special handling, place a reading room reproduction request. Your reproductions will be delivered electronically following your research visit.