Closed Shelves Policy


The purpose of the Closed Shelves area is to protect library material which, by virtue of its condition, format, value, subject content or illustration, is subject to damage, mutilation or theft on open shelves in Hamilton Library. The University Library has a responsibility, as the steward of state property, to safeguard such materials.


Materials that are exceptionally vulnerable to loss or mutilation will be placed in Closed Shelves. Further restrictions on circulation and use may be imposed. Prudent decisions will be made on an individual item basis, rather than categorically, and the portion of the holdings placed in restricted access location will be kept as low as possible. Opinions may occasionally differ on the need to place materials in Closed Shelves; in such a situation the item(s) in question will be placed in Closed Shelves.

Selection Guidelines

The best guide for decisions to place materials in, or transfer materials to, Closed Shelves, is good judgment based on professional training and experience. Some general guidelines for the type of material to be protected follow:

  1. Portfolios with separate plates, books with tip-in plates, original illustrations or reproductions which need control for use or are subject to theft.
  2. Certain types of books which are regularly missing from open shelves, on such subjects as surfing, orchids, and other extremely popular topics. These categories will quite likely change over time, and should be regularly reviewed by selectors, and removed from Closed Shelves as appropriate.
  3. Items which are scarce, that is, difficult to replace as distinct from rare or expensive.
  4. Unusual formats and fragile (brittle) books that require special care/housing.


  • Special Collections: Material appropriate for Special Collections should be housed in the appropriate collection so long as that collection can provide the requisite level of physical security. Multiple copies of material requiring protection should be housed together. Rare, Hawaiian and Pacific Collections generally will house their own materials.
  • Other collections will normally add their materials to the general Closed Shelves area, except as they include material being held as collections, usually in a secured area, e.g., Kajiyama Collection, Government Documents and Maps.
  • Periodicals: Only in rare instances should periodicals be placed in Closed Shelves. Rare and/or fragile periodicals, or those with very unusual format or content, might qualify for inclusion in “Closed Shelves.”

Procedural Guidelines


  1. Subject/area selectors will normally be responsible for designating a title “Closed Shelves.”
  2. The selector should compose a short note to be added to the holding record, stating the reason for recommending Closed Shelves.
  3. Items designated “Closed Shelves” may circulate or may be designated “Library Use Only.” If an item is not specifically designated “Library Use Only,” Circulation will assume that the item may be borrowed.
  4. As material is being processed, any staff member may call attention to material that should be considered for “Closed Shelves.” The question should be referred to the selector responsible for the subject/area.
  5. If material being recommended for “Closed Shelves” falls within the policy and guidelines set up, it may be processed without question. If, however, there is a question as to the type of material or the quantity being recommended, then material should be referred to the selector responsible for the “Closed Shelves” designation. Collection Services staff may make this referral through their supervisors.

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