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Special Collections and the University Archives

Reading Room Policy

Thomason Special Collections

Reading Room Policy

Welcome to the Thomason Special Collections Department, a division of the Newton Gresham Library – Sam Houston State University. The mission of the Thomason Room Special Collections department is to provide access to rare books and manuscripts while protecting them for future generations. To facilitate both access and preservation, we have implemented the following policies:

  1. As patrons enter Thomason Special Collections, they deposit their backpacks, purses, coats and other belongings on one of two shelves on either side of the entrance to the Thomason Room.

  2. To protect the materials in the Thomason Room, patrons are asked to bring only pencils, loose leaf paper, laptops and/or scanning equipment (including cameras and necessary attachments).

  3. Patrons are asked to sign in, filling out a basic informational form.

  4. Please note that eating and drinking is prohibited in the Thomason Room.

  5. Please turn off your cell phone while in the Thomason Room. If you must take a call, please step out into the hall.

  6. If you do not have a pencil or need additional paper, ask a staff member and they will provide you with the items you need.

  7. Please note: Special Collections items are often fragile or are housed in a specific way. Therefore, the items in Thomason Special Collections are in a closed stacks environment, and must be retrieved by a staff member. If you have the call number of an item that you would like to see, give it to the staff member and ask to see the item in question. They will bring it out to you.

  8. If you have a specific research interest, either email that research request to or simply come to the Thomason Room Special Collections Department on the 4th floor of the Newton Gresham Library between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday-Friday and we will do our best to help you with your research!

  9. Finally, researchers must cite all materials they use in publications. Please include the full name of the collection or item and of the department, for example:

    Powell Letters. THR###. Series 1, Box 2, Folder 3. Newton Gresham Library, Thomason Room Special Collections, 1830 Bobby K. Marks Drive, Box 2179, Huntsville, TX 77341


Here are some notes about the best practices for the care and handling of manuscripts and rare books held in the Thomason Room:

  • An accidental mark with a pen is forever – use pencils only.

  • Remove one folder at a time from a box.

  • When looking through a folder, do not remove individual items from their original order. Request acid free bookmarks and use them to flag items you wish to come back to (or flag them if you plan to request copies).

  • Do not trace over manuscripts or apply pressure onto manuscript or rare book materials.

  • Do not leave books open and upside down, this can do irreparable damage to the spine.

County Records Policy and a Guide to County Records at SHSU

SHSU Special Collections staff provide reference services (in cooperation with Reference and library personnel) for the county records we maintain. As these materials are housed in locked storage and are difficult to retrieve, we ask that county records patrons please call ahead (936.294.1619) and please read the attached policy for more information.


Please also note the guide to county records, which will help you find the information you are seeking.


Photocopy and Scan Policy

SHSU Special Collections Department

Photocopy and Scan Policy

General Policy Points:

  1. While we are happy to make copies and scans, please be conscientious about the selections you make for your photocopy request.
  2. Please fill out the online photocopy / scan request form, indicating whether the photocopies are for publication, personal study or for another purpose   
  3. Be sure to capture the bibliographic / citation information for each book or manuscript you are requesting.
  4. SHSU Special Collections staff reserves the right to deny requests if the item in question has preservation issues.
  5. Material may be quoted or reproduced for private or educational use without prior permission as long as a proper citation is given. See the citation guides on the Library’s website for tips on forming a proper citation:

Any commercial use of material found on this site or found in SHSU Special Collections is prohibited without prior permission from Newton Gresham Library, Sam Houston State University.

  1. For government information about copyright law please visit: 
  2. Newton Gresham Library’s policy is available here:
  3. SHSU Special Collections reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.
  4. A scan or photocopy, even if for a publication, does not indicate a transfer of copyright.

In-house photocopy request:

  1. For in-house photocopy requests, the first 20 copies per patron are free. Beyond 20, the copies completed in-house are $.10 cents per copy.
  2. SHSU Special Collections reserves the right to deny a photocopy request based on preservation concerns or limited staff time.

Procedures for mailed photocopy request:

  1. SHSU Special Collections charges $.10 cents per copy for shipped copy requests as well as a calculated shipping and handling fee. Tax will be applied to the copies total but not for shipping and handling.

Procedures for county record photocopies:

  1. Copies of Walker and other county materials are subject to the regular fee of $1.00 per page (as per the policies of the Walker County Courthouse) plus tax. This fee is payable to the copy center downstairs. The copy center can provide a receipt for patrons.
  2. County records patrons are encouraged to photograph (with either cameras or camera phones) the county records they are researching.

Procedures for scanning requests:

  1. For scanning requests, if the item is for personal use, the request (when 10 or fewer scans) will be processed free of charge. 
  2. When scanning for publication, any charge will be determined by SHSU Special Collections Department Head and Library Administration.  

*SHSU community includes SHSU students, faculty and staff.

  1. Those requesting a scan will be asked to fill out the online photocopy/ scan request form




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