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Archives & Special Collections (ASC)

Using Archival & Manuscript Materials: Using Archival & Manuscript Materials

Rare and Fragile Materials

The Archives and Special Collections include materials that are unique, rare, and/or fragile. Because of this extra measures are taken to protect them.

  • Materials do not circulate and may be used only in our research rooms.
  • Use of material requires registration and presentation of identification. The information from the registration form will help us to keep statistics on the usage of our archival material, and will help us to improve service in the future.
  • As in most archival settings, beverages, food (including gum, cough drops, and mints), and use of tobacco products are not permitted, as these may damage the materials. Pencils are to be used for notes to safeguard original material, and paper must be loose - no notebooks, folders, or books may be brought to the tables.
  • Laptops are permitted, but must be removed from any sleeves or cases.
  • Lockers are provided to house researchers' bags while they visit. These lockers are located in the research room.

University Records

  • University administrative records held by the University Archives and Records Center that are more than 25 years old are available for inspection and research use in the research room during regular business hours.
  • Access to university administrative records held by the University Archives and Records Center that are fewer than 25 years old will be determined, as appropriate, in accordance with the Kentucky Open Records Act and, in particular circumstances, with the written permission of the responsible university official (e.g., the department chair or dean).
  • Patient records are protected by the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and are restricted for 50 years after the patient's death. If the individual's death date is not known, the record is restricted for 125 years from date of creation. 
  • Student records are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and University of Louisville student records policies. Student records are restricted until the individual's death, or, if the death date is not known, for 75 years after the creation of the last entry in the record. 

Faculty / Class Use

If you require students to do special projects with Archival materials, including exhibitions, please note that such uses require work in conjunction with curators and archivists, and at least 8 weeks' advance notice of the project and the materials desired. Please note that any use outside the Ekstrom Library building requires certification of appropriate security and climate in the exhibit space. ASC staff will determine on a case by case basis whether materials can be used or lent for such purposes.

Any materials already available online may be used in digital projects, with proper attribution. Files may be downloaded from Digital Collections, and metadata may be reused.

A limited number of materials held by ASC that are not available in Digital Collections may be digitized for the class project. Because this calls on us to digitize materials on spec, we must require a prior agreement with the course instructor. Typically, the class is limited to 30 items, which must be requested by the course instructor, aggregated as a single request. Class assignments requiring more than 30 items may incur reproduction fees, which may be paid for by the department offering the course via University "ProCard" or by individual students. In addition, the faculty member is advised to contact ASC well in advance (preferably as they begin to plan their syllabus and the project itself) to determine how far in advance digitization orders should be placed. Image orders may take 3 weeks to complete. Oral history digitization requests may take longer, depending on the number and length of recordings involved.

Archives and Special Collections will consider collaborative projects that match ASC's priorities while advancing the goals of faculty members outside ASC. These might take the form of students creating metadata for existing or planned Digital Collections, or the creation of new Digital Collections.

Non-University Materials

Many of the collections held in Archives & Special Collections were not generated by university offices, but were donated by individuals and community organizations. This may include materials donated by faculty and students that are not considered university records. With respect to researcher access to records from a donor or depositor other than a public agency, access is given subject to any restrictions agreed to with the donor or depositor, in accordance with the Kentucky Open Records Act. A note indicating whether there are any restrictions on access to the collection is usually included in the online catalog record, as well as the finding aid. In addition, patient records held as part of manuscript collections are protected under the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). These records are restricted for 50 years after the individual's death, or if the death date is not known, for 125 years from the creation of the last entry in the record.