Collections care

Jim McRaeArchives collections are kept in environmentally-controlled, secure areas and do not circulate outside of the Special Collections and University Archives reading room except for transportation to storage, conservation, or digitization labs.

All material collections donated to the Archives are placed in archival, acid-free containers and appropriate folders to ensure long-term preservation of the materials. Some archival collections may contain materials that have physically deteriorated or are fragile. If necessary, staff will consult with conservation staff to decide upon appropriate treatment. Electronic and born-digital materials have their own preservation needs that are addressed on a case by case basis, with some data currently migrated into a preservation format.

Collections donated to the Archives are inventoried, cataloged and curated by experienced professional archivists. Basic information about the Archives' collections is available via Stanford Libraries' online catalog, SearchWorks, and in most cases is searchable via finding aids in the Online Archive of California.

When cataloged collections are opened to researchers, Archives staff make them available to patrons in a secure and supervised reading room in accordance to the donor's instructions and/or University policy.  When the department is closed, the facility is protected by an electronic security system and by the security staff of the University.

The Archives reading room is open to the public.  A wide variety of researchers use the Archives' collections, among them historians, scientists, genealogists, print and broadcast journalists, artists and filmmakers, faculty, students, and Stanford staff and administrators.

The Archives uses items from its collections in exhibits displayed in Green Library and Arrillaga Alumni Center. Items can also be loaned for special exhibitions. See our Loan Policy for more information.

Digitized and born-digital materials are available through SearchWorksSpotlight, and the Online Archive of California.


Staff in the Libraries' Preservation Department provide conservation treatment, exhibit loan support, assessments, training, and consultation for dealing with materials that are fragile, deteriorating or otherwise difficult to handle.


In addition to in-house Archives scanning equipment, Stanford Libraries' Digital Library Systems and Services (DLSS) provides high quality digitization services (digital scanning, reformatting, and capture of born-digital materials) of items from Archives collections. Highly trained staff combine state-of-the-art digitization equipment with state-of-the-art best practices to provide support for collection-level digitization projects, systemic digitization (en masse digitization efforts), and patron requests for small sets of items. Special labs include: