photo of three people walking out of special collections and archives

Visiting the Archives

On this page:

Planning Your Visit

Special Collections and Archives collects, preserves, and makes available the history of aviation, the local and regional history of the Miami Valley, and the history of Wright State University.

Visitors are welcome to visit the Reading Room on the fourth floor of the Dunbar Library during the department's open hours. Researchers are invited to make an appointment two or more business days prior to conducting research in the Archives. Those making appointments will receive a visitor parking pass by email and their requested materials will be pulled and waiting ahead of arrival. If you have questions about a research project, donation of material, outreach program, or tour, please contact the Special Collections staff.

Before Your Visit

Researchers should search the Special Collection and Archives catalog or collection guides to locate materials of interest. Some materials are located offsite and need to be requested at least two business days in advance to ensure they are readily available. Research appointments are recommended.

When You Arrive

Because our holdings contain rare and valuable materials, the following guidelines must be followed to access the collections:

  • Please register at the front desk upon arrival.
  • Review the Rules and Regulations (PDF) and complete an Application for Research (PDF).
  • Please do not bring food or drink into the Reading Room.
  • Please use pencils only, as pens, markers, and highlighters might damage materials.
  • Lockers are available for your personal belongings. Purses, briefcases, backpacks, laptop cases, and other large materials are not permitted in the Reading Room.
  • Digital and cell phone cameras are permitted. Please read our Camera Use policy (PDF).

Directions and Parking

Special Collections and Archives is located on the fourth floor of Paul Laurence Dunbar Library, to the left of the elevator or stairs.

Get Directions


  • Visitor parking is available in Lot 11 just outside the library with a valid visitor parking permit; park in any space.
  • A free visitor permit is available at the Visitor Parking Booth in Lot 2 near the Student Union.
  • The Parking booth is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., subject to the availability of the parking attendant staff.

Special Collections staff can provide a visitor parking pass with a 24–48 hour advance notice. Please call 937-775-2092 or email us to request a visitor pass. Additional information on parking is available through Parking.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do I need an appointment to visit?

    No, but we strongly recommend making an appointment.  Please check our research room hours for our open hours. If you are considering a visit, please contact us with any questions you may have.

  • May I borrow material?

    We encourage researchers to use our materials, but we also must preserve them for future scholars as well. Therefore, materials in Special Collections and Archives are not available for borrowing. Materials from our collections may be used in the Reading Room during our open hours.

  • What is the locker policy?

    After you sign in at the Reading Room, you will need to check all of your belongings into an available locker. We have lockers with locks available near the Reading Room on the fourth floor. You may keep loose paper, pencils, laptop computers, and research notes with you. Please be advised that for security of our collections, any material brought into the Reading Room is subject to search prior to leaving.

  • How can I get a copy of a photograph?

    You can get a photographic copy or digital media file made from photographs from our collections. Please be aware of Copyright and Use of Materials and review our Fees and Ordering Process.

  • May I use my digital camera or scanner?

    At the present time, researchers are not permitted to use scanners in the Reading Room for protection of the materials. However, digital cameras are allowed for reference purposes only. Patrons must sign and follow the Camera Use Policy Agreement (PDF) each visit.

  • May I use my laptop computer?

    Yes, the use of laptop computers is allowed in the Reading Room, and electrical power outlets are available. However, laptop cases, backpacks, and briefcases must be placed in a locker, as they are not permitted.

  • May I make photocopies of materials?

    Most materials in the collections may be photocopied, subject to size, condition, and copyright restrictions. There is a self-service copy machine available in the Reading Room. Please check with the Reading Room desk staff if you have any questions concerning making photocopies of materials.

  • May I use my cell phone?

    To help maintain a quiet atmosphere for research and study, we ask that cell phones be put on vibrate or turned off completely. If cell phones must be used, there is a Dunbar Library Cell Phone Zone available just outside the Reading Room.

  • Will Special Collections and Archives do research for me?

    We provides basic reference service via email, telephone, and mail, in addition to assistance to patrons in the Reading Room. We encourage researchers to use our finding aids, catalogs, and digital images online to help focus the research request. Please refer to our research guidelines and fees.

  • How do you decide which collections you accept?

    We have a Collection Policy (PDF) that outlines the specific subject areas we collect: local and regional history, aviation history, and Wright State University history. This helps the archives focus on materials that are the most relevant to the research needs of our students, faculty, and community.