This week marks a University of Waterloo Library (Library) milestone: the Waterloo Digital Library (WDL), an online repository used for sharing select items from Special Collections & Archives (SCA) and the University of Waterloo Archives (UWA), is officially five years old![1]

Since the site’s launch, the WDL has been used to share a growing selection of digitized primary resources from SCA and UWA holdings to enhance online access and improve the research experience.  Waterloo Digital library engage with the past emerge with the future.

This Waterloo Digital Library(WDL) promotional card features a photo from 1966 of librarian Ching-chih Chen standing in front of open book, assisting students in the library stacks. The photo [66-2409_005] is part of the Kitchener-Waterloo Photographic Negative Collection images on the WDL.

How have things changed?

Over the past five years, the number of items available for viewing on the WDL has expanded to more than 4,000 ranging from photographs and motion pictures to ephemera and periodicals. Content has been pulled from a variety of thematic areas,[2] with a special focus on local history, women’s studies, and the history of the University of Waterloo; combined these three collecting areas generate the most interest from on- and off-campus researchers.  

The WDL has also been used to improve the viewing experience of items that were previously on the SCA website such as local souvenir albums, letters from early German settlers, and suffragette postcards.  

What is new?

What comes next?

Over the next few years, the WDL will be undergoing a technical makeover to improve its functionality and reliability. Now is the time to let us know what you like, or do not, about the current site using the WDL contact us form. Your feedback will help the WDL support team best meet the needs of site users like you.  


The WDL would not be possible without the collaborative support and contributions of dedicated, patient, and incredibly good looking people - past and present. Thank you to former co-op students for the scanning, banner design, and transcription efforts. Thank you to the SCA team for all of the work that goes into (re)describring, processing and caring for records with online use in mind. Thank you to Rose Koebel for always making sure our promotional items (like the postcard above!) always have a special touch of polish and care. Thank you to the donors who have graciously extended permission to share records online. And last, but certainly not least, thank to the Digital Initiatives team for on-going technical support and maintenance.

[1] Campus communications about the WDL rolled out in February of 2018, but a test version of the site quietly launched on April 25, 2017.  

[2] You can read more about SCA’s thematic areas on the Archives Database.

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