Get to Know Special Collections- The Maryland Room

Welcome to the Maryland Room!

img_9695-1Have you ever visited the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library? Are you intimidated by the glass walls and reading room rules?  We’re here to help! The Maryland Room, located on the first floor of Hornbake Library is the reading room for Special Collections and University Archives at UMD. If you want to take a look at books or documents from our collections, all you have to do is visit the Maryland Room and our staff will help you find what you need. From 15th century rare books to modern records of the AFL-CIO, there’s so much to explore!

We welcome students, faculty, visiting researchers, and the general public to visit. The Maryland Room is generally open 10am-5pm Monday-Friday, with extended hours during the semester. You can view our current hours online.

Unlike McKeldin Library, where you can wander the open stacks and check out books, The materials in Special Collections and University Archives are located behind closed stacks and do not circulate.


When you visit the Maryland Room, a staff member will retrieve the materials for you. Why the difference? Items in our collections are rare, one-of-a-kind, and often in fragile condition. To ensure these materials are safeguarded and accessible for years to come, there are some rules you will need to follow when you visit us.

Visiting the Maryland Room

To view materials in the Maryland Room, start by checking in at Welcome Desk located in the lobby of Hornbake Library. The staff member at the desk can explain the reading room rules and answer any questions you may have. You will be asked to sign in and place your bag, coat, pens, and any food or drink into a locker.


Keeping ink and food from entering the Maryland Room helps keep our materials safe from permanent marking and bugs. You wouldn’t want to spill your coffee on a 14th century French legal document!

Bags, food, and pens may be prohibited, but you can always bring in pencils, books, notebooks, and laptops to help you work. Cameras are encouraged so you can take photographs of the materials you are viewing.

After you have locked up your belongings and signed in, the staff member at the Welcome Desk will buzz you into the Maryland Room. A special collections librarian will be waiting at the reference desk to help you locate materials or answer questions about our collections. If this is your first visit to the Maryland Room, be sure to bring in a photo ID.


If you requested materials ahead of time, they will be on hold for you. If you haven’t made requests ahead of time, that’s alright, the librarian at the desk can walk you through the process. Our staff will need a few minutes to pull the materials you requested from the stacks, which will give you plenty of time to settle in at one of the tables while you wait.

How to Handle Archival and Rare Material

img_9723Once the materials you requested have been retrieved, the reference librarian will call you to the desk.  

When using archival collections, you may take one box at a time to your table, then pull out one folder at a time. This makes it easier to keep the folders in order so the documents stay organized for the next researcher. You will be given an “out” card to place in the box to mark the location of the removed folder. When you are done with a box, bring it back to the reference librarian at the desk to swap it for the next box.

Be sure to handle materials with care and keep archival papers in order. If your collection contains photographs, you will be given gloves that must be worn to protect photographs from fingerprints.


fullsizerender-3If you are looking at books, you can take up to three books to your table at a time. Some of our rare books may be fragile, so be sure to handle them with care. Books may be photographed or scanned onto a USB using one of the two overhead scanners in the Maryland Room.

Are you looking at issues of the Diamondback or the Baltimore News American newspaper on microfilm? Our microfilm readers are located in the back of the Maryland Room. The librarian can walk you through using the microfilm readers if you haven’t used them before.

And while you are in the reading room, be sure to look at our exhibits both in and outside of the Maryland Room!

It can be nerve-wracking to visit the Maryland Room for the first time, but don’t let that stop you from exploring the rich resources in Special Collections and University Archives. 

If you don’t know where to start, contact us online or check out our in-depth guide to Using Special Collections and University Archives.

Follow us on social media for news, updates, and info about our collections.


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