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FLEET LIBRARY | Research Guides

Rhode Island School of Design

About Classes: Special Collections

Class requests deadlines:

Friday, July 5 for Summer 2024

Friday, September 13 for Fall 2024

Friday, December 20 for Wintersession 2025

Friday, February 21 for Spring 2025

Thank you!

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Archives + Special Collections
Fleet Library at RISD, 2nd floor, Room 201

General Information

How to identify materials in Special Collections:

All materials are in the RISD Library online catalog and distinguished by call number location prefixes: SPECIAL or ARTISTS'.  Searches can be limited to just items in Special Collections by choosing "RISD Special Collections" under Location.


By appointment only.

Food and drink are not allowed in the Reading Room.

Please wash your hands (sink across the hall from the Reading Room as well as bathrooms before the double doors on the 2nd floor).

All bags and coats must be hung up on the coat rack in the lobby or keep behind the Reading Room desk.

Sketching and Note-taking:

Allowed: pencils, sketchbooks, notebooks, paper, laptops, tablets, phones.

Not allowed: pens, markers, colored pencils, charcoal, paint, ink, etc.

Duplication Options:

All duplication requests for scanning and photocopies are subject to copyright fair use restrictions and condition of the materials. Readers may take digital photographs, with permission.

Types of Classes Offered

We are offering virtual, hybrid, and in-person (up to 20 people) class options.  Masks are optional.

Virtual (via Zoom and our camera): 

  • For virtual classes up to ten items can be pulled per class (1 hour-1 hour 15 minutes). 
  • Classes can be recorded with the Special Collections Librarian and faculty member for asynchronous instruction.
  • We are adding digital content from RISD Digital Commons, Artstor/JSTOR, and Internet Archive to class lists (arranged alphabetically by department above). 


  • A Zoom session with the Special Collections Librarian, faculty member, and students (30 minutes).  The session will cover an introduction to Special Collections, how to handle items, and a look at 1-3 items with group discussion.  This session can be recorded.
  • Small group (up to 7 students at a time) in-person visits for students and faculty member (20-30 minutes each) viewing up to 20 items.  


  • Up to 20 people.
  • Up to 20 items can be pulled per class.
  • The session will cover an introduction to Special Collections, how to handle items, and a look at 1-5 items with group discussion and time for one on one with items. 
  • 1 hour-1 hour 30 minutes.


Each year Special Collections is visited by over 100 RISD classes and groups from the greater Providence, RI area.  Faculty members or group leaders can request a date and specific items for a class or group visit to Special Collections here.

  • Requests made after the semester deadline will be accommodated on a space-available basis and at least two weeks ahead of your preferred meeting date/time.  Due to space and staffing we are limited to three classes and/or groups a week.

  • Instruction in Special Collections is a collaborative process. The faculty member must be present during every class visit.

  • If your visit request falls outside our normal hours (Monday-Friday, 8:30-4:30 pm)  please contact us by email

  • All new classes/groups and/or new faculty/leaders are required to make an appointment before your class/group visits to discuss class structure and review items.  Appointments are recommended for all returning faculty/leaders as well.

  • All services are contingent upon staffing being available.  We hope to never cancel a class, we will do all that is in our power to postpone or do a class virtually if we need to cancel a class. 

Handouts listing items used in previous class or group visits to Special Collections are available at the top of this page (sorted by department or affiliation).