Welcome to Special Collections and University Archives!

Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) is home to some of the most interesting and exciting primary research sources available through the Colgate University Libraries and operates in many ways like a library within a library. Here you can ask for and receive help with research and reference questions; locate and use archival materials in a variety of formats; receive instruction on using our unique materials; and find a quiet environment in which to work with our materials. Though our services mirror those of the larger Case Library, there are also a number of ways in which our department is different from most other libraries you’ve worked in in the past. Here are some things you will need to know to feel comfortable and capable in Special Collections and University Archives.

Where is SCUA located?

The Reading Room is located in Case 275, to the right behind the main stairs on the second level of Case Library and Geyer Center for Information Technology.

When is SCUA open?

Our current hours are available on our website. Generally, we are open Monday through Friday 9:00a.m.-4:00 p.m. and we require a scheduled research appointment. During all breaks (including the summer and winter holidays), our hours may vary depending on staff availability.

Can I check out items from SCUA?

Materials from Special Collections and University Archives cannot be checked out. We retrieve materials for you, and you view them within our reading room. Though you cannot take the item home with you, you can use a camera, phone, or tablet to take a picture of relevant pages and passages, as long as you have the ability to turn off the flash.

How do I request materials?

We have an online request form that you can fill out! Please give us at least 24 hours notice, so that your materials will be ready for you.

What do I need to do to use the materials in SCUA?

You will need to register with us during your first visit and sign in during each subsequent visit. Registering only takes a few minutes, and your “Researcher Registration Form” will remain valid for one academic year. The first time you complete this form you will need to provide a valid form of photographic ID, such as your 'Gate card, driver’s license, or passport, so please come prepared!

Are there any other rules that I should know?

Yes! These rules help ensure that the materials are kept in good condition and will be available for future researchers.

  • Eating and drinking are not permitted within the Special Collections area.
  • You may only use pencils for writing implements while working with department materials. No pens are permitted.
  • You must leave your personal belongings in front of our registration desk or in the lockers outside of our department. The only items permitted in the reading room are:

pencil iconpencils

paper icon department-supplied note paper

Image of laptop computer your laptop or tablet (removed from the case/sleeve)

camera icon digital camera or other camera­ capable device (e.g. a smartphone).

  • Materials may not be handled in any way which might result in damage.
  • You may only use one box or volume at a time to avoid misplaced or misfiled items.
  • Books must be used on the table (not held in your lap) and must be properly supported by department ­supplied book mounts.
  • Certain materials, such as photographs, require that the user wear department­-supplied gloves when handling them. For all other materials, we simply ask that your hands be clean and dry.

How do I find materials to use?

In some cases, your visit may be prompted by a class assignment for which your professor, in conjunction with one of our archivists or librarians, has selected items they would like you to work with. If this is the case, please let the staff member or student at our front desk know which class you are from, and they will point you to the appropriate materials.

If you are visiting for an independent project or for a class project for which materials have not already been selected, then you will need to rely on a combination of your own searching and conversations with our archivists and librarians to find materials relevant to your topic. Please consult our tutorial on searching the archival and manuscript collections for more information. In most cases, you will want to have a chat with our staff prior to finalizing your topic to get a better idea of the types of research our materials can support.

Many of our published items are cataloged in the Libraries’ online catalog, and many of our archival and manuscript collections have online inventories available. You also can browse a list of these inventories. Some materials have not yet been cataloged or inventoried, so you will want to meet with a SCUA archivist or librarian to discover additional resources. Some of our materials have also been digitized and are available online.

Help! I can’t find anything on my topic or research area.

Navigating rare book and archival collections can be complex, and we are happy to assist you. Please set up an appointment with Cara Howe, University Archivist, or Xena Becker, Special Collections Librarian, for research assistance.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call, email, or stop by during our open hours to learn more about how we can help you with your research!