The collections of the Library Society exist for the benefit of all researchers. Our staff is here to help with your research project in any way possible and to connect you with the materials you need. Requests are accommodated daily on a case-by-case basis, but 24 hours advance notice is preferred. Researchers wishing to conduct long-term studies of our collections are also welcome. A staff member is available for hands-on research and reference assistance in our Main Reading Room Monday through Friday from 9:30am to 12:00pm.
Even if you are not a current member of the Library Society, our archives and special collections materials are available to you. A Daily Research Form must be filled out, and a five dollar Daily Membership fee does apply. This is the perfect option for visiting researchers with only a limited time to stay in Charleston. Guest researchers will be asked to present a photo ID.
Early preparation for your visit will help you make the best use of your time. Please visit our online catalog to review our holdings in archives, special collections, and research materials. The online catalog will provide you with call numbers our staff will need to retrieve information. Having these numbers when you arrive will likely be a great help to both you and library staff. Because of the fragility of some items, researchers may be asked to use copies, including microfilm or fiche, instead of originals.
If you are unable to visit the Library Society in person, we offer basic research services. You can complete the Research Request Form or the Image Request Form with any and all pertinent information of your research query. All information about payment for these services is found on the form. Please note that the Library Society staff is not able to do in-depth research for you. We are happy to provide you with a list of third-party researchers whom you may contact to assist you in your research.
You may request an appointment time (if visiting the library) or send your research request form to Anna Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rules of the Reading Room/Research and Writing Center:
- Hands must be clean and dry before handling materials.
- Food and beverages are not allowed while using materials.
- Materials may not be checked out or leave the reading room without the express permission of an authorized staff member.
- Coats, briefcases, bags, purses, backpacks, newspapers, large notebooks and any other bulky items must be left in a locker in the Main Reading Room.
- Researchers may take notes with paper and pencil (not pen) or a laptop computer.
- Researchers may not mark, photograph, paper clip, staple, put post-its on or fold any library and archives materials.
- Library staff will provide instructions if foam book rests must be used for materials in fragile condition.
- Researchers will only be given three items at a time.
- Should a researcher discover errors in arrangement or description, he/she should call this to the attention of the library staff.
- Researchers should not rearrange or in any way alter papers’ order or descriptions.
- When you finish your research, leave your materials on the table and inform the staff whether or not you intend to return.
- All photocopying is done by staff. Copying may be prohibited due to donor restrictions, copyright law, or condition of the item(s).
- Materials belonging to the Library may not be photographed or published without written permission from a librarian.
Photocopying and Photographic Services
- Photocopying can damage library materials and many items are simply too fragile to be photocopied. Generally, photocopying special collections materials is not permitted, though exceptions may be considered on a case by case basis by the appropriate staff member.
- Fees for basic photocopies are twenty-five cents per page.
- Photographing materials, whether with a digital camera, phone, or related equipment, is considered ona case to case basis and requires prior approval by the appropriate staff member.
- To reproduce an image found in the Library Society collections, use our Image Request Form and Image Publication and Reproduction Policy Form.
Permissions and Copyright
Permission to consult the Special Collections does not include permission to publish or quote from material contained therein. The Charleston Library Society does not necessarily hold the copyright to the material in its collections. Permission to publish from unpublished works under copyright must be obtained in advance from the holder of the copyright. The researcher assumes full legal responsibility for observing copyright law and all laws respecting the literary property rights of the donors or creators (their heirs or assigns) of special collections materials. Laws against libel and invasion of privacy may also apply. Researchers assume full responsibility for any legal questions that may arise as a result of their use of materials in the collections. The Charleston Library Society will not be responsible for any infringement of copyright or the violation of any other law, rule, or regulation by researchers. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permissions for use of any copyrighted material. Columbia University has a helpful guide to copyright law at http://copyright.columbia.edu.