Using Special Collections & University Archives

Visiting Special Collections


Special Collections is located on the third floor of the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, at the top of the staircase. The elevator is to the right of the Library Services desk on the main (second) floor. The entrance to the reading room is through an exhibit room flanked by the magnificent replicas of Lorenzo Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise doors.

Reading Room Hours

Consult the Libraries’ calendar for information about when our department is open.



Parking is available on the first floor of the Whalen Parking garage and under the adjacent Fitness Center (with access through the Whalen garage), with a four-hour limit. A $5.00 daily parking pass is also available for the top floor of the West Stadium Parking Complex. A small metered lot is located at the back of the Knowledge Center (East side) with an entrance on Evans Street. There is a two-hour limit in this lot. Parking fees are $1.50 per hour, and passes may be purchased at kiosks in the parking areas with cash, debit, or credit cards. Up to date fee information can be found at Parking & Transportation Services.

Consult the campus parking map for exact locations of these lots and disability access spaces.

The RTC Sierra Spirit also stops directly in front of the Knowledge Center.

In The Reading Room

Reference Services

Department staff are available at the Special Collections research desk during open hours to assist researchers. Requests for materials are received at and paged from the research desk, along with requests for help with acquiring reproductions of materials.

Researchers visiting us in person will need to complete a researcher registration form. The form can be completed in advance or during the visit.

Personal Belongings

In order to safeguard valuable and rare or unique materials, all individuals using the reading room must place belongings that are not needed for research or note-taking in the lockers at the entrance. Beverages and food are not allowed in the reading room.

Capturing Information

A self-service scanner with an e-mail feature is available for use, and cameras are allowed for research purposes. Pencils and paper are provided, and electrical outlets are available for laptop computers and other portable devices. Ink pens, indelible pencils, correction fluid, and personal scanning devices are not allowed in the reading room. Please ask about policies and request help with the scanner at the reference desk.

Computer Access

Access to Special Collections guides, databases, the library catalog, digital projects, and the library's subscription databases such as Newspaper Archive is available to visitors on computers in the reading room. On laptops, "guest" wifi access is available on site.

Protecting and Preserving materials

When using and copying manuscript materials, remember that they are often fragile and will require special handling. Remove only one folder at a time from the box and use a blue flag to mark the folder's location. Place the folder flat on the table before opening it and do not remove materials from the folder. Only one folder at a time will be allowed at the scanning station.
Place books on foam wedges at the table and use the book cradle on the scanner to protect their bindings, and turn pages carefully from the outside edge.
Keep original photographs in their mylar sleeves and handle them by the edges. Cotton gloves will be provided for examining and copying unprotected images.
The Special Collections Department reserves the right to deny access to certain materials that are not prepared for public use. Copies of especially fragile or valuable materials may be substituted for the originals.

Ordering Reproductions

Special Collections and University Archives items do not leave the department, but most items can be copied using the self-service scanner or with staff assistance. Procedures and fees vary by types of material and the intended use.

Reproduction Policies

  • Special Collections and University Archives will determine whether or not an item may be copied.
  • Submit a permission to publish request form for commercial use of archival materials owned by the department.
  • Self-service options are free. Staff assistance is also available.
  • Most orders take 3-5 business days to be delivered. Oversize images and large orders may take more time.
  • Any fees must be paid in full before delivery.
  • Invoices and payment information are sent via email; cash, card, and check are accepted.

Procedures and Fees


COST: Free

Special Collections and University Archives has an overhead scanner for public use in the reading room. It can scan images and manuscripts (excluding oversized items) at 600 dpi and send them via email and flash drive.

Cameras are allowed in the Reading Room for research purposes; please ask about policies and procedures at the reference desk.

Many materials are available for free download in our Digital Archive or through our Photo Database.

Submit the permission to publish request form for use of materials in publications, films, and on the web. Follow the instructions for crediting the department.


COST: $12+

Staff assisted scanning is always free to users with disability-related needs.

Use the order form to request digital copies of materials. You will receive a confirmation and/or invoice shortly after submitting an order. After any fees are paid, digital copies will be transferred via our file transfer system (UNR Box). You will receive an email message with instructions.

Photocopies: $0.10 per page.

For personal and research use only, not for use in publication, broadcasts, public display, or on websites. In the reading room are forms for requesting copies of 1) pages or sections of books and 2) papers in manuscript collections. Photographs must be scanned rather than photocopied for preservation reasons.

High-resolution digital copies: free or $12.00/item

Digital files of photographs, documents, maps, or architectural drawings are available in either TIFF, JPG, or PDF format at up to 600 dpi (other resolutions may be available upon request).

Some of our materials are available online for free download already. Please check our digital archive or our photo database before placing your order.

  • Reproductions of 10 items are free-of-charge per every 6 months
  • $12.00 per item after 10 item limit has been reached

Audio and video files: Price varies

Digital files will be provided in MP3 (audio) or MP4 (video) files through file transfer or on CD or DVD.

Some of our materials are available online for free download already. Please check our digital archive before placing your order.

  • Service price is dependent on project.
  • Consultation is required and estimate will be given at that time.

Other Fees

Online delivery via web/file transfer service Free
CD/DVD delivery Add $1.00 per CD/DVD
Shipping and handling Add $6.00 minimum (may increase for large orders)
Research $25.00 per hour of research taking more than 30 minutes, no pro-rata
Processing and Preparation $12.00 per hour for any photocopying scanning that requires more than 30 minutes of staff time
Research Help

Research Help

Special Collections and University Archives staff are available to assist with your research questions. Please contact us for assistance.
If you need general research assistance for library materials outside of Special Collections and University Archives, contact the Research and Instructional Services Department or the Jon Bilbao Basque Library.

Finding Archival Materials

Collection Guides

The majority of the archival collections have an online collection guide explaining what is in the collection and providing a collection number to assist with retrieval. Each collection guide (sometimes referred to as a “finding aid”) includes an administrative history of the department or organization, or a biographical history for the papers of individuals and families. Search any term, and then limit to “collection” as a starting point.

Library Catalog

The library catalog of the University of Nevada, Reno Libraries can be searched for both published material and the archival holdings of the Special Collections and University Archives Department. Records exist for most processed collections in the archives and include a general description of contents, span dates, size, and a brief description of the creator or creating office of the records. Example of a catalog record. Some catalog records will also link to a more detailed description of the contents of the collection, called a collection guide, if one is available. For more search options, try an Advanced Search of the Library catalog. To limit results to the Archives, select UNR Special Collections and Archives in the location dropdown box.

Images and Media

Finding Images and Media Materials

There are two ways to find and obtain Special Collections and University Archives images.

  1. First, check our Digital Archive. You can search through all the collections of digital images and texts or you can browse (and search) through a large or small individual collection. You can download a high quality copy of an image:
    • Click on the small "clip" icon above the top left corner of the photograph.
    • You will be prompted to download the image to your computer.
    • If you plan to print the photograph or use it in a publication or film, you will need to resize it. Change the resolution to at least 300 dpi and adjust the height and width proportionately to an appropriate size for your purpose.
    • Submit the Permission to Publish Request form for use of photos in publications, films, and on the web. Follow the instructions for crediting Special Collections and University Archives.
  2. If you have not yet found the images you need, search our large and comprehensive photo database, which contains descriptive records and images for digital photographs and also descriptions of non-digital photographs. Photocopies of non-digital photos can be seen in the Special Collections Reading Room. Whether a photo is already digital or not, you can order a digital copy:
    • Submit the Permission to Publish Request form for publication of materials. Follow the instructions for crediting Special Collections and University Archives.
    • If you need assistance finding material that will meet your needs, please contact us at or (775) 682-5665.

Audio and Video Recordings

Special Collections audio and video items can be found within manuscript collections or in the library catalog. Audio files are available for some of the oral histories. Please ask us for more information.