Before you visit...
Know the Rules
Most special collections and archives have some special rules for using materials that are different from visiting a library. Generally, these rules help keep the one-of-a-kind materials safe and accessible by ensuring careful handling, by maintaining security, and by being responsive to the specific needs of a careity of formats. Each archives or special collections has specific policies and procedures and its a good idea to check them out before you visit. Check out Russell Library Research Policies and Procedures
Place Your Order
The Russell Library has online guides ( finding aids) for all of its collections that are open for research. You can browse and request the materials you want to come in and look at using any computer or laptop with an internet connection. You can make requests in advance of your arrival at the special collections building, or you can make requests when you arrive. There are staffmembers available in the research lobby located on the third floor next to the elevators to help you with requesting.
Russell Library is open Monday-Friday from 8-4:45 p.m.
What to Bring with You:
What to Leave at Home
While You Research
Give yourself enough time to make progress. It often takes a long time to go through all the materials that you hope are relevant to your topic. Plan to visit when you can spend at least an hour of concentrated work. Note that 4:30p.m. is the last call for making new requests for materials to be delivered to the reading room that same day.
Remember to gather citation information as you look through materials in the Russell Research Room. This will save time with citations later. Note the following items:
The Archivists' Quest
Before archives integrated the full magic of the internet, patrons had to browse paper (gasp!) inventories of collections to find relevant materials. They had to read the information at the beginning of a collection finding aid to know which boxes to browse if they wanted to save time, or if they had lots of time on their hands, they could review the entire finding aid until they found something that seemed relevant. This was time-consuming and frustrating to patrons who were looking for something specific in a big collection.
Once archivists moved finding aids online, and better yet, loaded these finding aids into searchable databases, people could enter keywords and get a quick list of results with the hits for the term highlighted. There was broad rejoicing among patrons--searching in archives was now fast and simple. Archivists liked the fast simple searching too, but they also noticed that quick keyword browsing often stopped people from discovering related materials described by different terms.
There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth and handing-wringing among these archivists, but eventually, they came to their senses and realized that they could mount a campaign among patrons to reinvigorate the value of browsing and to hone keyword searching skills. No longer would patrons give up when their first keyword search failed to yield good results! Instead, they would brainstorm other ideas for terms to try. In their free time, patrons would browse finding aids instead of texting and browsing Facebook.
Make their dream a reality!
Keyword Search Tips and Tricks
Brainstorm terms related to your topic
Never Admit Defeat!