Guidelines for the Use of the Library

"It ought not to need to print in a reading-room a caution to strangers not to speak loud; nor to persons who look over fine engravings, that they should be handled like cobwebs and butterflies' wings; nor to persons who look at marble statues, that they shall not smite them with canes. But, even in the perfect civilization of this city, such cautions are not quite needless in the Athenaeum and City Library."
— Ralph Waldo Emerson "Behavior"


The Walden Woods Project's Thoreau Institute Library houses printed material, manuscripts, artwork and realia. Due to its research nature, the collection does not circulate outside of the Institute and the following guidelines and restrictions apply:

  • All researchers must register at the Reading Room desk by presenting proper identification and completing the registration form.
  • Researchers must check coats, bags and briefcases. Only those files and papers essential to conduct research will be allowed to be brought into the Reading Room. All papers will be inspected prior to leaving the Reading Room.
  • Portions of the collections may be unavailable for research due to: incomplete organization or description; the reservation of first rights to publication of current projects of the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods; or possible violation or right to privacy of living authors or correspondents. Restrictions may be imposed on sensitive documents or material in the Thoreau Society archives (i.e., current transactions, legal issues, and/or personnel matters) in order to protect the legitimate proprietary right of the institution. Additional restrictions may apply.
  • All material must be handled with extreme care to ensure its preservation. The use of gloves may be required to handle some items. Material should remain flat on the Reading Room table and not be leaned on, written on, folded, traced from, or handled in any way likely to cause damage.
  • Pencils only are allowed in the Reading Room whether Institute material is being used or not. No pens or ink of any kind, including erasable pens, are allowed in the Reading Room. No self-stick removable notes may be used. Note-taking is permitted using Reading Room tables only.
  • Typewriters, laptops and/or tape recorders are permissible, but are not supplied by the Institute.
  • Books may be requested three (3) at a time. Manuscripts and other boxed material may be requested one (1) box at a time but used only one (1) folder at a time. The original order of the folders must be preserved. Any damaged or misfiled material should be brought to the Curator’s attention. Please do not attempt to fix it.
  • Photocopying and/or other forms of reproduction are limited by condition of the material as well as any donor restrictions. Permission to examine material does not automatically include the right to duplicate. Researchers may not use digital scanners or photographic equipment to copy material without prior approval.
  • The Curator on a case-by-case basis will consider publication requests. An application for publication, available from the Curator, must be filed.
  • One copy of published research will be placed with the collections.
  • The researcher agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the Walden Woods Project and/or The Thoreau Society, its officers and employees, from and against all claims and actions arising out of the researcher’s use of material in the collections of the Institute.
  • Eating and drinking are not allowed in the Reading Room. The Institute buildings are smoke-free.
  • Persons in violation of Library regulations relating to the Library's property, including its collections, are subject to removal from the premises. Mutilation or theft of Library materials or other Library and/or Walden Woods.
  • Project property may be prosecuted in accordance with the provisions of applicable statutes. In addition, persons violating the rules and regulations prescribed by the Library which provide for the protection of Library property shall be subject to: suspension, revocation, or other curtailment of privileges and/or restriction of further access to the Institute buildings, and use of its reader and reference services and other facilities.

Wireless Internet

Wireless Internet service is available, however, use of the library's wireless connection is entirely at the risk of the user. Users should be familiar with their own personal wireless device and should have basic knowledge of how to connect their own devices to a wireless network. Library staff will not provide technical assistance with personal devices or configurations and cannot guarantee that the user will be able to make a wireless connection.

The library does not offer laptops or peripheral equipment (power strips, wireless network cards, mouse pads, cables, etc.) to the public nor can the Library guarantee access to power outlets. The user should bring a fully charged battery and prepare to be self-powered, as electrical outlets are not always readily available in public areas. The library assumes no responsibility for the safety of equipment.

As with most public wireless, the library’s connection is not secure and privacy cannot be protected. Any information being sent or received could potentially be intercepted by another wireless user. Cautious and informed wireless users should not transmit sensitive personal information (credit card numbers, passwords, or any other sensitive personal information) while using this or any public wireless networks.The library will not be responsible for personal information (e.g. credit card) that is compromised, or for any damage caused to your hardware, or software due to electrical surges, security issues or consequences caused by viruses or hacking. All wireless access users should have up-to-date virus protection on their personal laptop computers or wireless devices.