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FAMST 101F: Special Research Collections


The Department of Special Research Collections acquires, preserves, and makes accessible rare, valuable, or unique materials from individuals, families, and organizations. Collection materials include correspondence, business records, photographs, audio recordings, and motion picture film and video recordings.

Major collecting areas include Film & Television, Performing Arts, the California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives (CEMA), American Religions, and University Archives. 

Finding Materials

Advanced Searches in UC Library Search can be limited to materials from "UCSB Special Research Collections."

Our collections are listed in the Online Archive of California and their contents described in a Finding Aid.

If you don't know what you're looking for, you can start by entering keywords in the search box under "Browse Collections."

Finding Aids are documents written by archivists to describe an archival collection. Although these documents differ by collection and institution, they typically follow a similar organizational structure that provides information about the collection's creator, any use restrictions, the scope and content of the materials, how they are arranged, and a collection inventory. These inventories vary but are typically organized by series according to like material type, time period, organizational division, or subject. Collections may be described at a high-level (box) or with additional detail (folder or item). 

Accessing Materials

  • Materials are non-circulating - they cannot be checked out but must be viewed on-site in our Reading Room.
  • Most materials are not digitized or available online.
  • Appointments must be made to give us time to retrieve collections materials.
  • Some materials are stored off-site and require additional time.
  • Appointments are available Monday through Friday, 9AM to 12PM and 1PM to 4PM.
  • Add at least 1-2 weeks to your research timeline if you plan to review special research collections materials.
  • Audiovisual materials must be digitized for access and this will add time to your research.
  • Engaging with primary sources in-person is time-consuming, allow yourself enough time to explore.
  • Limit the number of boxes you request to no more than 5 at a time.
  • A scanner is available for use in the Reading Room for select materials depending on the material's condition and copyright.

Requesting Materials & Appointments

  1. Create your Special Research Collections Research Account.
  2. From the collection's finding aid, locate the material you'd like to view in our Reading Room.
  3. Click on the gray box labeled "Request Items" to log into your account and indicate which materials you'd like us to retrieve.
  4. Email our public services staff to ask any questions about the process and to schedule your Reading Room appointment.
  5. Allow time for the public services staff to review your request and follow up with any questions and to schedule your visit.