About Special Collections & Archives

The University of Waterloo Library's Special Collections & Archives department is housed in the Dana Porter Library. Our Doris Lewis Reading Room is named in honour of Doris Eileen Lewis, the first University Librarian of the University of Waterloo. The department opened on June 2nd, 1976.

Special Collections & Archives holds early editions and rare books, collections of archives and manuscripts, and other material that requires special care and handling because of its early publication date, provenance, physical condition, aesthetic value, or unusual format.

Now numbering over 70,000 volumes, the rare book collections have particular subject strengths in the following areas: women's studies, local history, the history of mathematics (especially Euclid's Elements of Geometry), architecture, dance and ballet, fine printing, spiritualism and theosophy, and urban planning.

Architecture titles from the Rosa Breithaupt Clark Architectural Collection and the William Dendy Library are housed in the Musagetes Architecture Library.

Historical and literary archives are maintained in a variety of subject areas that, for the most part, complement the book collections. The collections are considered working collections that have been developed systematically around subjects that reflect the goals of the University of Waterloo's major teaching and research programmes.

The University of Waterloo Archives is also part of Special Collections & Archives. The University Archives houses official records of the University of Waterloo. Included are correspondence, reports, minutes, publications, architectural and building plans, photographs, ephemera, and memorabilia.

Special Collections & Archives resources are available for use by students, faculty, and staff, visiting scholars, and by the general public.


We're lonely

Common questions


Local history and genealogy


The library has moved all of its reference online, including Special Collections & Archives. The Reading Room is therefore closed until further notice.

Please continue to contact us with your research requests. A selection of items is browsable via the Waterloo Digital Library. We also have over 140,000 items digitized—one might be what you’re looking for!

Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
View full library hours.

Visit our HistoryPin page Visit our Facebook page Visit our Twitter page  Visit our Instagram page