Special Collections materials are noncirculating, with use limited to a staff-supervised reading room, where book cradles or gloves may be supplied as needed for particularly valuable or fragile materials. Interlibrary loan requests are supplied when possible by photocopy, but are otherwise refused as "noncirculating". Preservation photocopies are made for patron use when originals are excessively fragile. Both radical and popular culture printed materials often have been printed with an expectation of disposability, on newsprint or other highly acidic papers, and unbound or cheaply bound, as in the case of posters, leaflets, newspapers, and mass market or "pulp" paperbacks. Such items in Special Collections are given protection when possible by the use of acid-free envelopes, folders or boxes, or mylar envelopes or sleeves.
When GLBT materials in the circulating collections (main library) are lost or mutilated, the decision whether to replace them, if contents were demonstrably controversial or explicitly erotic, may involve sending the replacement copy to Special Collections in order to avoid repeated damage or loss.
Staff who handle rare or fragile Special Collections materials are expected to use good preservation practices. Reading room rules have been designed to protect materials, and staff persons encourage careful handling of Special Collections titles by the public. Patrons may need to be reassured that their privacy will be protected, when they are asked to fill out request forms for GLBT materials. Staff dealing with patron requests may need to verify that they are dealing with someone of appropriate age and/or with a legitimate research topic in the case of some unusually explicit materials.