University Library

Special Collections & Archives

Access to Collections

Owing to the value and fragility of items in the collections, it is necessary to maintain materials under special conditions. Material does not circulate but is available in the Special Collections Reading Room to all users of the library. Advance notice is required for use of some material in Special Collections so that it can be retrieved from storage.

Researchers are encouraged to request materials via the UCSC Special Collections Request System in advance of their visit.

Please see our Conditions of Use for more information on using materials in our reading room.

Conditions of Use

We have special conditions for use and handling requirements which all researchers must follow. The rules below are designed to protect collections while providing the best possible service to users.

  • All items are subject to examination upon entering or leaving the Reading Room.
  • Advance notice is required for use of some material in Special Collections so that it can be retrieved from storage.
  • The Reading Room is reserved for the use of Special Collections material only.
  • All patrons must present a government issued ID or UCSC ID when checking in to the Reading Room.
  • Place all personal property, including briefcases, computer cases, backpacks, purses, notebooks, cell phones, coats and umbrellas in the storage cabinet drawers provided at the entrance. Laptop computers may be used. Scanners, pens, highlighters, mechanical pencils, and all user-supplied manual writing devices are not permitted. Pencils and paper are provided to all users.
  • Smoking, eating and drinking are prohibited in Special Collections. No food or beverages may be placed in the storage drawers.
  • Users may access one folder of manuscript material at a time, one box at a time.
  • Handle and read materials only at the reading room tables. Limit handling of items to the minimum necessary for your research and exercise all possible care to prevent damage to materials. Gloves provided by Special Collections must be worn when handling photographic or other fragile material. When in doubt about proper handling of material, please consult the Staff.
  • Do not mark, take notes on or trace on top of Special Collections material. All material must remain in plain view on the table; do not place items in your lap or hold them up. Nothing may be placed on materials except bookweights. Book cradles may be required for certain materials.
  • Manuscript and other loose-leaf material require special care. Please maintain their existing order and arrangement, and use place-holders provided by Staff. Suspected irregularities in arrangement should be brought to the attention of the Staff.
  • Return all material to the Special Collections Staff at the reference desk when you are finished using them, before leaving for the day, or if you are leaving the Reading Room for an extended period.

Outgoing Loan Program

Through its Outgoing Loan Program, Special Collections & Archives collaborates with educational and cultural organizations wishing to include Library collections in their own exhibits. This program helps fulfill the Library’s mission of supporting research, teaching, and learning by promoting the discovery and use of Library collections in new contexts.


All loan requests are considered on a case-by-case basis. Approvals are based on criteria which include the condition of the item being loaned, the nature and duration of the exhibit, and the facilities and security of the borrowing organization.


The borrowing organization is responsible for loan costs, including but not limited to preparation and conservation treatment, insurance, packing/crating, transportation/shipping, customs fees, and organizational courier expenses.


Please submit loan requests at least four months in advance.


Please include the following information in a loan request:

  • borrowing organization’s name and address

  • name, title, email address, and phone number for curator/staff member overseeing the exhibit

  • exhibit title and a brief description of the theme and content

  • exhibit opening and closing dates

  • description of requested objects: author or artist, title, location within collection, or other identifying details

  • description of the borrowing institution’s plans to display the materials

  • completed American Alliance of Museums (AAM) Facility Report


Please direct all loan requests and related questions to:

Jessica Pigza, Outreach & Exhibits Librarian,

Finding Our Collections

To find a collection, archive, or book: Search Cruzcat for archives and other material in Special Collections by limiting the location to McHenry Spec Coll. Cruzcat records give the call number and a summary of the collection. Links to finding aids are included when available.

For more detailed information about a collection: Search the Online Archive of California for electronic finding aids to many of the collections. Finding aids include more detailed information about papers or records within a collection. Note: Finding aids are not available for all collections.

Find Digital Collections: Browse UCSC's digital collections on UCSC and local history, maps, and more.

Requesting Special Collections Items from NRLF

If you wish to request a Special Collections item stored at the Northern Regional Library Fascility (NRLF) please place a request by searching our Library catalog, Cruzcat, click Spec Coll Request, and submit a request form via the Special Collections Request System.

Special Collections items are shipped from NRLF once per week, on Thursday afternoons. Your request must be received by 3pm on Tuesday for delivery that same week. Only five items may be requested per week. If you need to request more than five items please contact Special Collections at or phone 831-459-2547.