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Teaching with Special Collections and University Archives

What are Special Collections and University Archives?

Special collections and archives contain primary and secondary resource materials that have characteristics which set them apart from other types of collections in libraries. These qualities may include:

  • Rarity: books, manuscripts and other materials which are old, scarce or unique.
  • Format: photographs, slides, films, audio and video recordings, maps, artworks, artifacts and other objects that require special handling.
  • Comprehensiveness: accumulations of materials that are individually not unique, but collectively comprise an important resource because of their relevance to a particular topic or individual.

Because of these qualities, special collections are difficult or impossible to replace, and are located in closed stacks areas where they are retrieved by staff for researchers in our Reading Room. 

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