What are primary resources and how do I use archives?
You can learn more about primary resources and how to use archives in the Archives 101 research guide.
Who can use Special Collections & Archives?
Students, faculty, staff, visiting scholars and the public can use the archives.
Can I research archival records online?
The Archives Database contains descriptive records that can be browsed by thematic area, academic disciplines or via keyword search (basic and advanced options are available). The descriptive records are ordered from top to bottom and can be viewed using the navigation tree at the top of each fonds or collection page.
The Waterloo Digital Library contains a growing selection of digitized primary resources from Special Collections & Archives and the University of Waterloo Archives.
Can staff in the archives carry out research for me?
Staff can help you identify records of interest but are unable to perform extensive research services. Patrons must review the records themselves or hire a research assistant. Additional information can be found on our Research and Information Services page.
How do I access material in Special Collections & Archives?
Submit an e-mail to email@example.com with the details of your request including the research topic, types of records that are of interest, and any relevant deadlines you are working towards.
Are there any restrictions to access or use archival records?
Some restrictions may apply due to the physical condition of the material, associated copyright law, or donor restrictions. In most cases, notes indicating a file is restricted have been added to the relevant records.
Can I obtain copies of archival material?
Yes, it is possible to obtain copies of some archival materials. Special Collections & Archives offers self-service digitization and full-service digitization options. Please note that all patrons requesting copies of archival material will be required to complete a Request for Reproduction form.
Can I use my camera or phone to take pictures?
If photography is allowed, you can use your own camera or personal device (e.g., tablet or phone) to take pictures of materials. You can also use the department’s book2net overhead scanner but need to bring your own USB flash drive or memory key to save your scans.
Please note that permission to take pictures is granted at the discretion of SCA staff based on copyright and usage agreements. All patrons taking pictures of archival material are required to complete a Request for Reproduction form.
How do I cite archival materials?
The preferred citation for records in Special Collections & Archives is:
University of Waterloo Library. Special Collections & Archives. FONDS/COLLECTION NAME. REFERENCE CODE
Staff can assist with more detailed citation formats upon request.
Do I have to make an appointment to visit Special Collections & Archives?
People wishing to visit Special Collections & Archives do not have to make an appointment but are strongly encouraged to contact the department before their visit. This allows staff to review your request and work with you to ensure the materials you wish to consult are ready when you arrive as some collections are held off-site or have restrictions on access.
Researchers who are unable to visit campus in person can contact the department with research requests and staff will work virtually with you.
To book an appointment, please submit an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional information about the department’s location and opening hours, please review our Visit Us page.
Where is Special Collections & Archives located and what are the department’s opening hours?
The department is located on the first floor (basement) of the Dana Porter Library and is open Monday to Friday from:
9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Appointments are not required but are encouraged.
For additional details, please consult our Visit Us page.
Can I borrow archival material?
Materials in Special Collections & Archives do not circulate, which means that they cannot be signed out or taken home. You are welcome to consult them in our reading room.
Can I eat or drink in the archives?
Eating and drinking are not permitted in the Special Collections & Archives.
Can I use a pen to take notes?
To prevent ink stains on our materials, we do not allow pen use. If you are taking notes by hand, you should use a pencil (we provide these). You are also welcome to take notes electronically.
Outreach and instruction
Can I book a tour of Special Collections & Archives?
Yes, you can book a tour of Special Collections & Archives. Individual and group tours can be arranged by submitting an e-mail to email@example.com
For additional information, please visit our Tours page.
Can Special Collections & Archives support in-class or in-library instruction?
We regret that we are unable to provide instruction support during the fall 2023 term, please check back in with us in winter 2024.
Donations, appraisals, and preservation
Who can I contact to discuss donating archival material and published material to Special Collections & Archives?
Please contact Meghan Whitfield with any questions related to the donation of materials.
How can I make a financial donation to Special Collections & Archives?
Please contact Meghan Whitfield for additional information about making a financial donation.
Do you offer evaluations and appraisals of books?
The University of Waterloo Library does not offer evaluations or appraisals.
Many antiquarian book dealers who specialize in valuable and collectible books perform evaluations or appraisals, usually for a fee. There are many sources of information on the Internet about books and book dealers. One starting point is the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of Canada.
What should I do with my old books and documents?
For information and suggestions about how to deal with the most common problems related to old books, documents, maps, photographs, etc., we recommend you consult Your Old Books, produced by the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries.
The Canadian Conservation Institute includes a wealth of information about conservation and preservation.