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 visitors to our Marilyn Stokstad Reading Room and remote users. No appointment is necessary to use the collections.
Researcher removing two large books from a shelf.

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 select “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 select 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, the Spencer homepage, or the website footer.

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 selecting “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 select "Reading Room Use." You'll then need to complete a "New Request" form for the materials you want to see.

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

        1. When looking at a catalog record for a Spencer item, scroll down to the section titled "Get It."
        2. Select the blue “Get at Spencer Library” button, which will direct you to log in to your Aeon account.
        3. The system will automatically open a "New Reading Room Use Request" form and populate the title and call number fields for you. Review this information to verify that this is the item you want to request.
        4. You may need to complete additional fields, e.g. the date range or volume(s) of the materials you want to see.
        5. Review all information before selecting the green “Submit Request” button at the bottom of the page.
        1. When looking at a finding aid, open a separate browser tab or window to log in to your Aeon account.
        2. Open a "New Reading Room Use Request" form and retype – or copy and paste – the collection title and call number into the appropriate fields.
        3. Please be aware that many archival collections have multiple call numbers. Materials in the same collection that have different call numbers should be separated into multiple requests.
        4. You may need to complete additional fields. If the collection contains more than one box, please list which boxes you want to see. Each box, whether consecutive or non-consecutive, should be separated into different requests.
        5. Finish by selecting the green “Submit Request” button at the bottom of the page.
        1. When looking at the main page of a finding aid, select the blue "Container Inventory" button.
        2. Select a box number to view its contents.
        3. Select the "Aeon Request" button in the top right corner; this will direct you to log in to your Aeon account.
        4. The system will automatically open a "New Reading Room Use Request" form and populate the title and call number fields for you. Review this information to verify that this is the item you want to request.
        5. Please be aware that many archival collections have multiple call numbers. Materials in the same collection that have different call numbers should be separated into multiple requests.
        6. You may need to complete additional fields. If the collection contains more than one box, please list which boxes you want to see. Each box, whether consecutive or non-consecutive, should be separated into different requests.
        7. Finish by selecting the green “Submit Request” button at the bottom of the page.

        Requesting Annex Materials

        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 Meredith Phares, Operations Manager, at 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.


        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 45 minutes before closing. All collection materials must be returned to the reference desk at least 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.

        Materials may only be used in the library.
        This is because many items in Spencer's collections are rare or unique.

        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 KU Concealed Carry.


        Research Assistance for Remote Researchers

        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 working days. Questions that require more than 60 minutes of research may necessitate a visit to the library.

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