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Visiting the University Archives


If you have not done research in the Archives, here is what to expect and some suggestions for making the most out of your visit. 

Discuss your project with an archivist before you visit We will help you identify relevant sources and what, if any, access restrictions apply. Identifying relevant sources is not always as simple as it seems, so make this initial contact well in advance of your visit. 
Make an appointment There is only one archivist on reading room duty. If we know about your visit in advance, we can make sure materials are ready for you. If you arrive unannounced and the archivist is busy, you may wait quite a while for the materials you need. 
Consider the Sources

University records are created to accomplish some organizational activity and communicate among participants in that activity. Records must be interpreted. They are messy, ambiguous, contradictory, redundant, and (often) missing.

Archival control organizes records by provenance, not by subject. Records of a single entity (department, committee, office) are maintained as a unit, separate from the records created by other entities. Thus, information on a given topic is dispersed among the records of all the entities that needed information related to that topic to do their jobs. What this means is that almost never is there a single source which brings together all the information available on a given topic.

A single record is part of a process which created many records. Rarely does one document make sense outside the context of related records. Consequently, the finding aids created by archivists describe records as aggregates, not as individual items. What that means is that there is no catalog or index to each of the over 24,000,000 pages held by the Archives. Finding aids to the Archives collection are not yet available on our web site.

Consider your own resources Using primary source materials is time-consuming. Be realistic about meeting deadlines and about how much time you are willing to devote to your research project when you are defining its scope.
The Archives is not a library

The materials in the Archives are often fragile, always unique or rare, and usually irreplaceable. Consequently, users do not have the freedom they do in a library. For example:

  • You will be required to fill out a visitor registration form on your first visit, providing your name, contact information, and a description of your project.
  • Materials will be brought from storage for you to use in the reading room. You cannot browse the shelves yourself.
  • Copies will be made for you by the archivist - no self-serve copying is permitted.
  • We do not lend materials, except under limited conditions.
Other Do's and Dont's for handling materials will be explained when you arrive. All of these rules are designed to ensure the materials you are using will be available in 100 years for other users.


Archives Home | CWRU's History | Collection & Services | Managing Records 

questions or comments? please contact archives@case.edu

Collections FAQ

Why isn't the book on the shelf?
Find out where a book is before you go to the shelf. Search the Case Catalog to see what it says like
- "Check Shelves" (look on the shelves, find it, & check it out);
- "Just Checked In" (ask staff for help, it's nearby, but too soon to be back on the shelves yet);
- "Off Campus" (out at an OhioLINK school);
- "Due mm/dd/yyyy" (it’s checked out until that date.) 
Tip: If it is not available, order an OhioLINK copy
Can I return books to a different Library?

Return Case or OhioLINK items to any Case library, yes. Case libraries have different hours, so your book might not get checked in on the day you return it if you use a bookdrop.

Return the CPL@Case-KSL books only to KSL, so the collection is here for you & others. Case libraries are not responsible for returning other local libraries’ books. Returning public library books here will not check them off of your account at those libraries.

What does "Check Shelves" mean?
"Check Shelves" means it is supposed to be on the shelf. If it isn’t there, double-check what the Case Catalog currently says to make sure that nobody else has checked it out or has kept it out too long.
How long does reshelving take?
The times are different, depending on what is being reshelved and what time of semester it is. KSL goal: to reshelve journals within 24 weekday hours, reshelve books within 48 hours. During peak times (end of semester) the time can be longer. Ask staff at the Main Service Desk for help.
How do I reserve a book?
Books are on the shelves for anyone who needs them, and are not reserved for individual use. If our book is checked out, order a copy from the OhioLINK.
Where are the UL Storage Stacks?
KSL has a university center half a mile from KSL, where lesser used or brittle books are kept, and the catalog search screen will display "UL Storage." You can visit the Center during daytime hours, or use an online request form to bring back the item to KSL. The center is now called RRCC (Retrospective Research Collections Center.)
Can I get a book or video on a specific date?
Yes, Case faculty, staff, & students can find out more details and use a convenient online request form for Book a Video or DVD  (KSL’s other collections are available only on a first-come basis for everyone, and cannot be booked ahead of time.)
What does a Book on Order mean? When will it get here?
When the catalog item displays “1 copy ordered for (library name)” the item is already in the library getting the final processing labels, etc., and will soon be on the shelf! Ask staff if there are other copies avaialable in OhioLINK in the meantime, or if you have an urgent need.
What is a PIN?
Your PIN is not assigned, you choose what it is and enter it on the Case Catalog at “View Your Library Record,” following the instructions. A Case Library PIN is a Personal Identification Number that protects your information, just like your bank ATM asks for a similar security PIN.
How do I get a library account & where can I look at it?
Case faculty, staff, and students automatically have online library accounts. You can look at it on the Case Catalog under “View your library record.” Use your library account to renew items on line and keep track of what you have checked out or ordered from OhioLINK or RRCC or Iron Mountain sites. Your Case ID is your library card!

View All FAQs

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