Archives & Special Collections (ASC) collects, organizes, preserves, and makes available for research rare and unique primary and secondary source material, particularly relating to the history and cultural heritage of Louisville, Kentucky and the surrounding region, as well as serving as the official memory of the University of Louisville.
ASC serves as an internationally recognized repository of primary source materials, with a special commitment to documenting the life of our community. We have a dual mission to preserve these materials, and to make them available to the public. All are welcome to visit our research room, on the lower level of Ekstrom Library, without charge. We also feature exhibits, which are also free and open to the public. Recognizing that many people cannot come to us, we are continually adding to our Digital Collections. We also host and teach classes, helping students hone their critical thinking skills by interacting with primary sources.
Archives & Special Collections was established in 2013, bringing together four related units from the University of Louisville Libraries into one library:
Photographic Archives was founded in 1962, and holds approximately two million photographs and associated records and manuscripts. Hundreds of discrete collections include national documentary projects, local history photographs, and an excellent museum collection of fine prints.
Rare Books was established in 1957, and holds books that are especially important because of their historical or literary significance, age, scarcity, or value. Rare Books’ collections also include literary manuscripts, rare posters and maps, and collections of books by or about particular authors or subjects in the sciences, literature, history, popular culture, and the history of books and printing.
University Archives & Records Center (UARC), founded in 1973, holds more than 11,000 linear feet of University records, personal papers, and records of other organizations. UARC is also home to the Oral History Center, which holds more than 2,000 oral history interviews. It is also the official custodian of the records of the University and administers the application of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) at the University of Louisville.
Digital Initiatives coordinates the University of Louisville Digital Collections, which includes rare and unique images, documents, and oral histories from ASC and other campus units, and ThinkIR, an open-access digital repository that provides worldwide access to the scholarship of the University of Louisville community. Digital Initiatives also coordinates the libraries’ digital preservation efforts.