The Bentley remains closed to the public and staff. We will be unable to respond to requests or fulfill orders until staff return to the building. Please see our full closure announcement here.

In-Person Research

We are pleased that you have found the library of potential use for your research. Please use this page as a guide to accessing and using the collections in person.

Arriving at the Bentley

There is free parking at the Bentley Historical Library year-round, right next to the building–just remember to get a parking hang tag from the Reference check-in desk inside the doors. There is never a fee to use the Library, and our staff are always available should you have any questions.

Once you arrive, we do ask that you check in with Reference staff by turning in your driver’s license, University of Michigan ID, passport, or other form of photo identification while you are in the Reading Room. We also ask that each person who will be in the Reading Room registers for an online research account. We encourage you to register on your home computer before you arrive, but you can do this in person or from any computer, anywhere. These processes help establish researcher identity and help us better secure and safeguard our holdings. It also helps us know a little bit more about what you’re researching, and how we might help!

Before you get started, we ask that you leave coats and other outerwear in our coatroom. The coatroom also has lockers with free locks available to store backpacks, purses, newspapers, and any other items not allowed in the Reading Room (see below for a list of what can and can’t be brought into the Reading Room under our Reading Room Rules).

Requesting Library Materials

You can search any of our catalogs and databases without logging into your account. Once you know what materials you want to look at during your visit, you can log into your online research account to request access to them. You can put in requests from home or from one of our computers in the Reading Room. A member of the reference staff will locate the materials for you and drop them off at your Reading Room table.

Don’t have an online research account? No problem, you can create one here. If you created an account and placed requests in it ahead of time, your material may already be available for you to view when you get here. Otherwise, we retrieve material on demand throughout the day.

If you need help placing requests through our website, see our helpful guide to requesting material, or just ask one of our reference staff–they will be happy to assist you!

Unprocessed Materials

The Bentley Library is unable to provide access to unprocessed collections. This is to prevent us from misplacing or damaging fragile materials and to protect any sensitive private information such as social security numbers and medical or academic records. In addition, some materials may be covered by donor-imposed or legal restrictions.
Please complete the Notice of Interest in Unprocessed Collections form. It will allow our Library to set the priorities for future processing decisions. Thank you for taking the time to complete this form.

The Reading Room Rules (Because our Reading Room Rules!)

For the safety and preservation of our archival collections and books, and to help ensure you have the best experience possible at the Bentley, we ask that all users observe our Reading Room rules and procedures.

Here’s a list of what you should leave in the coatroom, and what is allowed in the reading room. For your convenience, free on-site lockers are available should you need to secure your belongings.

Yes, bring it in!
• Laptop computers
• Cell phones (please remember to turn off your ringer!)
• Cameras
• Notebooks
• Pens or pencils

Sorry, it stays in the coatroom
• Coats
• Food and drinks
• Books and newspapers
• Briefcases, handbags, backpacks, computer cases
• Purses
• Scanners

For Your Convenience
• Outlets for laptop computers are available under every research table.
• Computers, a microfilm reader-printer, digital microfilm readers, light boxes for negatives, an iPhone/iPad stand, book weights, and foam book wedges are available.
• Handheld magnifiers are available for use in the reading room.
• Headphones are available for listening to digital recordings in the reading room.
• We don’t allow food or drinks in the Reading Room, however, Pierpont Commons and the Duderstadt Center are a short walk away and have a variety of food and drink options, as well as places to sit and eat.

Bentley On-Site Policies
• Please use cell phones in the foyer or outside the building.
• Please return your materials to the Materials desk by 4:45pm to be placed on hold or reshelved.
• After 4:30pm on weekdays and 12:30pm on Saturdays, we stop retrieving materials and making photocopies.
• The Library reserves the right to examine items brought into the Reading Room.
• Any person found stealing, defacing, mutilating, or in any way damaging materials will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

How to Handle the Materials in the Reading Room

Because many of the materials from our collections are quite old and delicate, everything must be handled with special care. To help us preserve the integrity of our unique archival materials, please follow these procedures:
• Please don’t erase or make marks on the materials.
• Do not trace or write notes/place notebooks on top of materials.
• Some digital materials may only be used in the Reading Room. These items may not be copied, e-mailed, or transferred in any way.
• Material should be used/placed on a table, not on the floor, on a chair, or on your lap.
• Please clean your hands before you handle materials.
• Wear gloves provided by the reference staff when handling either photographs or photographic negatives.
• Only one box or five books may be used at a time.
• Remove only one folder from a box at a time.
• Use out-cards, provided by the reference staff, to mark the place of the folder in the box.
• Put folders and items back in the same order and facing the same way you received them to maintain the existing order and arrangement of material.
• If any material is discovered to be out of order, please notify the reference staff member on duty. Do not rearrange papers.
• Use foam cradles to support oversize or fragile books and bound manuscripts, available from the reference staff.
• Special weights are available to keep books, rolled maps, and other materials open safely. Ask reference staff; different sizes are available.