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Special Collections & Archives

Getting Started


Our collections are available for use by faculty, students, visiting scholars and the general public.

You will find a wealth of research material in our collections. Our special collections include rare books, UCSC and local history resources, photography collections, artists' books and more. Archives in our collection preserve the records of people and institutions as they lived, worked and carried out their business. These records may include literary works, financial records, meeting minutes, etc., and may be in formats like sound recordings, photographs, digital files and more. Notable archives and special collections available at UCSC are noted on the About Our Collection page of this guide. 

Are you new to archival research? Check out our guide: Archives & Archival Researchan introduction for students and emerging researchers at UC Santa Cruz. You'll learn what archives are, where to find them, and how to use them as part of your research process. 

Start by setting up your Aeon account which allows you to reserve material to view and place requests for copies and reproductions.

Use Library Search, above, to discover materials on your subject and use the "Special Collections Request Form" link in any record to request it.

Search our Digital Collections to find photographs, maps, audio recordings, campus publications and other documents.

Take a look at our Researcher Community Agreement and other policies before visiting the Special Collections Reading Room so you will know what to expect. 

Not all resources are readily available. If an item is in offsite storage it can take as long as two weeks to retrieve. We will send you an email confirmation when your material is available to view in the Special Collections & Archives Reading Room. See the Using Our Collections page for more detail.


Click the record to see more detail and use the “Special Collections Request Form” link to request it.

Most of our collection is onsite so should be readily available. Some items, though, are in remote storage or may be unavailable because they are being processed. We will send you an email to let you know when it is available. We do have estimates of how long it could take for some circumstances:

  • Map Collection: 2 business days
  • Materials stored offsite at "Special Collections NRLF": 1-2 weeks
  • Unprocessed archival collections: 2 weeks or more
  • Unprocessed born-digital collections: 6 weeks or more
  • Processed born-digital collections: 2 weeks


Special Collections & Archives material may only be viewed in our Reading Room. The Reading Room is located on the 3rd floor of the McHenry Library. See our hours to find out when we are open.


Because material in our collections may be fragile, delicate, and rare, the procedures for using materials in the Special Collections & Archives Reading Room are different from the rest of the library. We cover all the details about visiting the Reading Room in our Researcher Community Agreement. But the basics are:

  • We will ask you to sign in when you arrive
  • You may only use a pencil and paper for note taking, which we provide
  • In general you may have a personal computer, cell phone or personal camera with you while you work. If there are exceptions, based on the material, we will let you know
  • Some items may require special handling. We will give you guidance and instruction on that depending on the item


We’ve shared tips above for locating material. We can also help by email or phone and our Reading Room has staff available to answer questions when it is open.