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We are excited to welcome you to Spencer Research Library. Please note that our hours have changed and that the Reading Room is open by appointment only. Learn more about what to expect in Spencer and in other KU library locations during the 2020-2021 academic year.

Use Collections



Kenneth Spencer Research Library is open to all researchers, regardless of academic affiliation or place of residence. We welcome University of Kansas students, faculty, and staff as well as visiting researchers and members of the community. We provide research services for both visitors to our Marilyn Stokstad Reading Room and for remote users.

No appointment is necessary to use the collections. Due to COVID-19, appointments are required during the 2020-2021 academic year. Please see our Service Updates page for more information.

Creating a User Account

All researchers seeking to access collections on-site in Spencer Research Library's Reading Room are required to have a current user account in Aeon, our online request system, in order to request and use materials. This can be done at home prior to a visit to the Library or at the Library's reception desk once you arrive.

To create a new user account, go to the main Aeon page on the Spencer website and click on “First Time Users,” located under the username and password boxes on the left. After reviewing the library's terms and conditions, you’ll then complete the registration form and click on the “Submit” button at the bottom of the page. Unless there is an error in your form, you will be taken directly to the main menu of your account.

Once you’ve set up your Aeon account, you can return to it at any time by going to the link above or the Spencer website. Most pages, including the homepage, have a link to Aeon in the upper right corner, under the top navigation menu, in the box titled “For Researchers.”

Aeon will encrypt your password, so it will remain secure. No one but you will know your password, not even Spencer Research Library staff. Aeon will allow you to request a password reset by clicking on “Forgot Password?” found on the Logon screen. If you need help, please contact Public Services at ksrlref@ku.edu or 785-864-4334.

Requesting Library Materials

You may begin placing requests for library materials once you have created a user account. You can do this from home prior to a visit to the Library, or a Spencer reference librarian can assist you with this process during your visit.

Library staff will retrieve materials upon your arrival at Spencer. Please check in to the Reading Room and inform the librarian that you have submitted a request.

To request materials in Aeon, first log in to your Aeon account. Next, find "New Request" listed on the left-hand menu and click on "Reading Room Use." You'll then need to complete a "New Request" form for the materials you want to see.

  • If you’re working from the KU Libraries online catalog: Go to the bottom of a catalog record for a Spencer item, under the heading “Location.” You’ll click on “Get at Spencer,” which will direct you to log in to your Aeon account. The system will automatically populate the title and call number fields for you, although you may want to review the information before clicking on the “Submit” button at the bottom of the page.
  • If you’re working from a Spencer finding aid: Log in to your Aeon account from a separate browser tab or window and open a "New Request" form. Retype – or copy and paste – the collection title and call number into the appropriate fields. Please also list which boxes you want to see.

You can review (and edit, delete, etc.) your current and past requests by logging in to your Aeon account.

The vast majority of the Library's collections are housed in the building, but some materials are stored off-site at an Annex facility. Contact Stacks and Operations Manager Meredith Phares (meredithphares@ku.edu or 785-864-2022) if you need to use materials stored at the Annex. Please allow at least two working days for materials to be delivered to Spencer.

The video tutorial below will assist you in requesting materials using Aeon.


Working in the Reading Room

We ask each researcher in the Reading Room to please follow these guidelines. A librarian is always available to provide assistance and answer questions.

  • Researchers must check in at the third-floor reception desk and place personal items in a secure locker (see below) before proceeding to the Reading Room. First-time researchers will be asked to show photo identification and create a user account, if they have not done so already.
  • Requests for collection materials are accepted until forty-five (45) minutes before closing. All collection materials must be returned to the reference desk at least fifteen (15) minutes before closing.
  • All items must be handled with care. Please see the Using Library Materials section below.
  • Library staff will review your requests for self-service scanning or digital photography; some materials may not be safely copied. See the Request Reproductions page for more information.
  • Please be respectful of Library staff and other researchers working in the Reading Room.
  • Any materials you take into the Reading Room will be examined by Library staff when you leave.

Using Library Materials

We need your help to maintain the long-term preservation and security of the library's collections and to ensure that the items you are handling will be available to future generations. Researchers in the Reading Room - as well as students and other visitors attending a class at Spencer or participating in a library tour - are expected to abide by the following policies.

  • Because many items in Spencer's collections are rare or unique, materials may only be used in the library.
  • Handle all materials with care. If the items you request require special handling, Library staff will assist you.
    • No tracings, rubbings, or marks may be made in or erased from any item.
    • Do not bend, press down, or otherwise manipulate or rearrange materials.
    • Keep materials flat on the table or scanning bed or in the stand or cradle provided. Library book weights can be requested to keep items flat, if appropriate.
    • Ask library staff for assistance with fastened items or items in protective casings.
    • Manuscript and archival materials must be maintained in the order presented.
  • Items needed for research or class are allowed in the Reading Room and classrooms.
    • Notepads, notebooks, papers, and personal notes
    • Textbooks, personal books, and books from other libraries
    • Pencils (available at the library)
    • Laptops or tablets without cases (laptops are available for use in the Reading Room)
    • Digital cameras (without flash)
    • Cell phones (set to silent)
    • Sweaters or sweatshirts (classrooms and the Reading Room can be chilly)
  • Some personal items are not allowed in the Reading Room and classrooms and must be placed in a secure library locker.
    • Items in which library materials could be concealed, including the following:
      • Outerwear (including coats and jackets)
      • Luggage and bags (including briefcases, purses, backpacks, tote bags, laptop cases and sleeves, and pencil cases)
    • Items that could damage library materials, including the following:
      • Umbrellas
      • Food, drink, gum, and tobacco products (including water)
      • Pens, markers, highlighters, and post-it notes
  • Spencer lockers are not approved secured storage for handguns. Individuals who choose to carry a concealed handgun must plan their day accordingly and transfer their handgun to an approved secured storage device in their vehicle or residence before arriving to use these lockers. For more information visit http://concealedcarry.ku.edu.

Research Assistance for Remote Users

Kenneth Spencer Research Library accepts research requests by telephone, mail, and e-mail; contact information is located at the bottom of this page. The reference staff will provide basic assistance with long distance research for anyone requesting information on the library's holdings. We will attempt to respond to each query within three (3) working days. Questions that require more than sixty (60) minutes of research may necessitate a visit to the library.

General KU Libraries questions can be submitted to the Ask a Librarian service via chat, email, phone, or text.


Caitlin Donnelly Klepper
Head of Public Services

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