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I am translating a text into English about library guidelines concerning "protected" documents, i.e. books prior to 1850. I wonder if I can use the term "protected documents" for these kind of materials or if there is another, more appropriate term for them.

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    I think this is a question about library conventions rather than the English Language. You need to ask on a Librarians forum . Oct 3 '16 at 11:44
  • Archived, perhaps, if they are not available to the general public, but Max is right - you need to ask a specialist.
    – Mick
    Oct 3 '16 at 11:52
  • Depending on how common the original term is, not translating it might be an option as well. If it's what they painted over the door of the off-limits section you might want to keep the word.
    – Helmar
    Oct 3 '16 at 12:12
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    Yeah, "archives" is one term used, but "rare book section" or "rare book room" is also a term used by some libraries.
    – Hot Licks
    Oct 3 '16 at 12:18
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    If the documents aren't actually books, they're probably in Special Collections. Also a library term of art, which you might be able to stretch to adjectival use.
    – 1006a
    Oct 3 '16 at 15:45
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As mentioned by Hot Licks, "Rare Book Section" is current usage and the books you mention are, therefore, "rare books"

In the Rare Book Section of a library one may find rare and very old editions, and some or most of them may not be accessible to the general public.

e.g.

The book was so rare, it was in the rare book section of a university ... - Ref 1

After World War I the Royal Library arranged a special room for its incunabula and 1635 rare books. This was the beginning of the Rare Book Section created in 1945 and consisting of... - Ref 2

“Yes, this is the rare book section and where many of the librarian's offices are located. We renovated this section first, since our collection is invaluable. - Ref. 3

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    They even treat it as proper noun.
    – Helmar
    Oct 3 '16 at 14:21
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    Don't abuse bold formatting instead of using quote formatting please Oct 3 '16 at 15:00
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You are looking for the formal terms from Library Science of Reserve or Reference. Reference is the most protected.

"Reference" is located next to the Reference and Research desk near the Information Commons computer lab. Reference books are for library use only and may not be checked out.

"DVC - Reserves" are textbooks and books used for current classes and have a more limited checkout period than regular books. These can be found at the Circulation and Reserves Desk opposite the entrance to the library. 3-hour reserve books are for library use only, and 1-day reserve books may be taken outside of the library.

http://dvc.libanswers.com/faq/9284

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    Reference is not at all what the OP is talking about. Traditionally reference works couldn't be checked out, but not because they were rare, old, or valuable; rather, it was because they were the books that would need to be consulted most often (and theoretically should be as up-to-date as possible). Things like dictionaries and encyclopedias and maps are in Reference. In the era of Google, Wikipedia, etc., this section is dwindling in most libraries—and reference works may now be circulating, since there isn't a line of patrons waiting to get a turn with them.
    – 1006a
    Oct 3 '16 at 19:53
  • @1006a In the UK, most large towns and cities had a dedicated municipal 'Reference Library', one that allowed readers to request for a few hours on site all kinds of reference books, copies of the great broadsheet newspapers going back to late 19th century and government HMSO publications, etc. This is a vanishing world. One such library still exists in central Birmingham where its trove of little known publications focuses on the published history of Britain's car industry, yet another vanished world. Oct 4 '16 at 1:02
  • Yeah, I'm reminded that when I was a kid the Louisville Free Public Library had a "Reference" room which was off-limits to children (unless accompanied by an adult) and which housed the "rare" books in their possession (though I don't know how rare they were).
    – Hot Licks
    Oct 4 '16 at 3:26
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Although somewhat archaic, may I suggest that one might still refer to the library's antiquarium as a section for storing and preserving rare books, manuscripts and the like.

antiquarium: (BrEng) A repository of antiquities. (AZdictionary)

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  • Not many public libraries in the US have an "antiquarian" section. Do you have a reference for the pre-1850 as a dividing point?
    – Dave
    Oct 4 '16 at 17:34
  • @Dave Well spotted on your part. I have now edited my answer and removed my reference to the OP's cut off point - "books prior to 1850". Evidently AmEng does not recognize the word antiquarium; it does permit antiquarian, the noun for a person "dealing in old or rare books" (M-W) . Oct 4 '16 at 19:59
  • Was not intentionally attempting a correction, but interest in the 1850 cut off. I do my best, unlike Bottom, not to be an ass.
    – Dave
    Oct 4 '16 at 21:40

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