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Library Policies
Please read our policies before contacting us or visiting our reading room

The Historical Medical Library welcomes all readers who wish to use the library's collections.


These rules are not intended to hamper research but to provide access to the collections in a manner that ensures their careful preservation.


  • Hours: By appointment, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Cancellations of research appointments MUST be made a minimum of 12 hours prior to scheduled arrival. Rescheduling of appointments is dependent on staff availability.
  • Readers must place holds for materials they wish to view in the Library’s online catalog at least 24 hours before an appointment. We may be unable to page materials during your appointment. If it is your first time visiting, please contact us to create an account. 
  • Readers wishing to use library materials must first report to the reference desk. First-time readers will be asked to fill out a registration form.
  • Readers MUST RETURN MATERIALS TO THE LIBRARY REFERENCE DESK. If the reader wishes to use the materials again soon, the staff should be informed, and those items will be held on reserve.
  • Readers may only have ONE box, volume, etc. at their table at a time. Additional materials must be left on their designated cart at the reference desk. Readers may NOT have personal reading material on table tops while using Library material.
  • There are limitations on how many requests can be pulled for a reader at a time. Staff will only pull THREE "Cage" printed items, FIVE books or journals from the Main Stacks, or FOUR manuscript boxes at one time. Once finished, readers may request additional volumes. Any preference in order of materials must be e-mailed to Library staff.
  • Readers MUST USE PENCILS when working with any material. Pencils are available at the library reference desk. Readers may also use laptops, tablets or other electronic devices for note-taking purposes.
  • Readers are responsible for materials issued to them. Readers should not lean or rest on materials. Book cradles and weights for holding volumes open are available at the reference desk. Please follow any instructions the staff may give you for the handling of materials.
  • Materials are on no account to be removed from the reading room or left unattended.
  • Non-flash photography is permitted.
  • Photocopying and scanning services are available, the condition of the material permitting. Please check with the staff. The cost for photocopying or scanning is $.50 per page.
  • No materials will be paged after 3:15.
  • Electrical outlets are located at each table. Electronic devices are permitted. Wireless access is available.
  • Food and drink are not permitted in the Library. Cell Phones must be turned off or silenced. If you need to take a cell phone call, please leave the reading room.
  • The reading room for the Historical Medical Library is wheelchair accessible via the Van Pelt Street entrance on the rear side of the building directly behind the Museum, parallel to 21st and 22nd Streets. At the right of the glass door marked “College of Physicians of Philadelphia," you will see an intercom speaker and talk button. Press the button, and when someone responds, say that you are visiting the Historical Medical Library and need wheelchair access. Someone will come to assist you.


Our HIPAA Policy
For information about our HIPAA policy as it relates to patient records, please download and read this PDF.