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Module 2: How to Find Primary Sources in the UIUC Archives

Archives do have a few rules

Because archives have materials that are rare and irreplaceable, they do not loan out their materials the way libraries do. Generally, you will use them in a specially-designated room, and you may be asked to comply with some rules that are stricter than library rules. (For example, no food or beverages are allowed.) And often, for security reasons, things like backpacks, folders, and ink pens must be left in a safe place outside the reading room.

Each archival repository has its own guidelines for use, but there are some ground rules that are the same in every one of them:

  • Never write or mark on an archival document in any way, and only use a pencil or laptop computer to take notes for yourself.
  • Handle fragile materials carefully to avoid wear and tear. You may be shown the best way to handle particular items.
  • Have only one folder/box open at a time, and replace all materials into the folders and boxes in the same order in which you found them.

The purpose of such guidelines is to make sure the materials will be available for future generations of researchers.


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boxes and sleeves to protect documents

Archivists use specially designed boxes, folders and plastic sleeves to protect documents and preserve them for posterity. Taking only one folder out of a box at a time helps the items stay in the right order for the next researcher. Keeping photographs in their plastic sleeves helps to prevent deterioration that can be caused by the natural oils on your skin.

Student Scrapbooks and Papers
Albert C. Spurlock Papers, 1936-45; etc.
Record Series 41/20/137

University of Illinois Library | Archives | Last updated: 08/23/06 | Comments to learnlib@library.illinois.edu
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