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Using Spencer Research Library

Guidelines for Visiting Classes

The staff of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library welcome students, scholars and the general public, and encourage use of the Library's collections and services.

Participants in seminars, classes or touring groups who do not also use the reading room are encouraged, but not required, to register.

Guidelines for Visiting Classes and Groups

Library staff are eager to work with instructors to help students become familiar with the KU Libraries and its services. At the beginning of the first meeting of a class in the Spencer Research Library, a librarian will welcome the students and discuss briefly their part in helping to ensure that future generations will be able to consult items in the collections, including a review of the reasons for the following policies:

  • All food, beverages, and tobacco must be left outside the Library.
  • All personal items (examples: coat, briefcase, purse, backpack, computer bag, camera) must be placed in a locker.
  • Any material necessary to research (folders, notebooks, laptop computers, etc.) that is taken into the Library's reading room or into a seminar room when items from the collection are present may be searched by staff as the individual departs the reception area.
  • Only pencils (obtainable from the staff) or a laptop computer (four laptop computers are available in the reading room) may be used to take notes. No tracings, rubbings or marks may be made in or erased from any item. Manuscript and archival materials must be maintained in the order presented.

Because the Spencer Research Library contains many rare or unique items, the collections may be used only in the Library. All items must be handled with care.

Teaching at KU

One-on-one assistance

Librarians and archivists are available to meet individually with instructors to help plan use of Spencer Research Library resources (and those of other libraries at KU), suggest options for assignments that will meet course objectives, teach or co-teach a class session, and confer with students in beginning their research.  For class assignments requiring the use of Spencer materials, we highly recommend conferring with Spencer staff first and providing a copy of the assignment so that our staff can provide the best possible experience for students.

Making an appointment in advance of need at 785-864-4334 will insure that the student or instructor will meet with the most appropriate person on the staff. It is not necessary to make an appointment to use the collections.

Use of Seminar Rooms

Instructors who wish to use Spencer Library collections and services for their classes may apply to use one of the Library's three seminar rooms, for semester-long or single-session use. Occupancy is limited to a maximum of 10, 15, or 35 persons.

Application for use of a seminar room should be made to the Library at 785-864-4334 well in advance of need.

To request to hold a semester-long class in one of Spencer Library’s seminar rooms, please complete and submit a classroom request webform. Seminar rooms are limited to instructors using Spencer Library collections and reservations will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Instructors will be asked to disseminate to their students Guidelines for Classes Visiting Spencer Research Library (above) in advance of meeting at the Library. It is expected that a librarian will greet the class at its first meeting, by arrangement with the instructor, to welcome the group, give brief background information about the Library, and answer questions.

Please allow at least one working day, not including Saturday, Sunday or holidays, for items to be used in classes to be retrieved. Portions of the collections are housed off site and will require extra paging time.

K-12 Teaching

Class Visits:

Staff are available to meet with secondary schools classes to tour the Library, offer instruction in how to use the Library, and discuss library resources relevant to an area the class is studying. These sessions typically include an opportunity for students to view, and, whenever possible, also to touch, sources relevant to the students' interests. Staff also will provide information about related collections and services offered at other libraries at KU. Advance notice is required (at least two weeks) to plan for and schedule such visits. Call 785-864-4334.

Visits to the Classroom:

Spencer Library staff have numerous specialties and often are able to make arrangements to visit classes to give a presentation on a particular topic. For example, Kansas Collection staff are available to speak on the African American experience in Kansas and Kansas history generally. Staff in Special Collections have expertise in such areas as the history of the book.

One-on-One Assistance:

Staff are available to meet individually with teachers to help them plan use of Library resources to teach a class, or with students in beginning their research. Making an appointment in advance at 785-864-4334 will insure that the student or teacher will meet with the appropriate staff member. No appointment is necessary to use the collections.

However, because portions of the collections are housed off site, it will require at least one working day—not including Saturday, Sunday, or holidays—for such items to be retrieved.

Teacher Workshops:

The Library invites visits by teacher workshops and in-service training sessions, especially for groups working in disciplinary areas for which the Library's collections and services can add special value. Contact the Library well in advance of need at 785-864-4334.

Territorial Kansas Online:

The Kansas Collection, located in Spencer Research Library, and the Kansas State Historical Society have launched an interactive website containing a selection of the best primary sources from the period of the Kansas Territory (1854-1861). This site includes manuscripts, maps, newspapers, photographs, and museum objects. It is geared primarily for use by secondary school students and teachers and includes sample lesson plans.


Caitlin Donnelly Klepper
Head of Public Services

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