Skip to main content

Visit Special Collections

Special Collections Reading Room

The Swarthmore College Libraries' Special Collections are all located within McCabe Library near the center of the campus and share a Reading Room within the Friends Historical Library, immediately to your left as you enter through the main doors of McCabe. The Special Collections Reading Room's phone number is 610-690-3386.

The Reading Room is open by appointment only. Visiting researchers should use this form to schedule an appointment and to learn about Covid-19 safety policies. Swarthmore community members may book an appointment directly hereDue to construction in summer 2023, please expect delays in getting appointments.

Reading Room Hours  
Monday - Friday 9 am - 12 pm, 1 pm - 4 pm
Saturdays when classes are in session 10 am - 1 pm
Planning for your visit

The climate control in the library can be extreme, especially in summer (when it can be freezing inside!) Researchers are advised to dress in layers and include a warm jacket or sweater.

We allow photography of most materials, so you may wish to bring a digital camera or use your cell phone camera.

Campus Maps

Use this page from the Swarthmore College website to find an interactive campus map, a printable map [PDF], and online campus tours, including a page devoted to the Libraries.

Driving Directions

While the College does not provide Library and Special Collections specific information once you've arrived on campus, the Driving Directions are useful.


The Visitor Parking information on the Swarthmore College website outlines several options. It will help to know that McCabe Library is located directly adjacent to the Scott Arboretum, and so following directions to that location will get you very close to Special Collections. Additionally, there are several handicapped parking spaces available very near the Library and beside the Rose Garden.

Public Transportation

Learn about the options from train stations, the airport and other options here.

Local Lodging

Explore the many options here. Visitors to Friends Historical Library may be especially interested in knowing about staying at Pendle Hill, a Quaker Retreat Center a five minute drive from campus.

Local Dining

Learn about options on campus and off, as well as choices nearby and regional restaurants 10 to 12 miles away.