Description of Purpose
The Special Collections department of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette University Libraries brings together a wide variety of materials representing the south and southwest Louisiana experience. Special Collections supports research for undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and other scholars whose work relies on archival records, rare books, manuscripts, media, digital files, and other primary sources. The central mission of Special Collections falls in line with the mission of the University Libraries, which as an integral part of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, is to support fully the instructional and research programs of the University by providing access to information through the teaching, acquisition, organization, and preservation of information resources in all formats to the University's academic community, the region, and the state.
The University Archives houses the archival records of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette from its inception to the present. The mission of the University Archives is to preserve and provide access to the University’s records of permanent historical, legal, fiscal, and administrative value.
These records include, but are not limited to:
- Office of the President
- Academic and administrative offices and units
- Annual and operative budgets
- Student organizations
Acadiana Manuscripts Collection
The Acadiana Manuscripts Collection contains collections of personal or family papers, business or organizational records, photograph collections, oral histories, and much more related to the Acadiana region and south and southwest Louisiana. While most of the manuscript collections relate to the Acadiana region of Louisiana, several have broader scopes that complement the region and culture.
Among the subjects covered in these collections:
- Oil industry
- Local and regional history
- Women’s history
- David Reichard Williams Papers
- Rice Millers Association Records
- Edith Garland Dupré Papers
- John M. Parker Papers
- Jefferson Caffery Papers
- Barnett Studio Photographs [Freeland Collection]
- Ollie Tucker Osborne Papers
- Mary Alice Fontenot Papers
- German Prisoners of War Collection
- J. Carlton James Oral History Collection
- Council for the Development of French in Louisiana (CODOFIL) Records
The Archives also houses reels of microfilmed Louisiana colonial records copied from repositories in Europe and North America.
The Louisiana Room is a division of Special Collections that contains the Library's collection of materials relating to Louisiana and the University. Resources include agriculture, arts and literature, business and industry, education, history, politics and government, and graduate and undergraduate theses. The various materials are available through Louisiana documents, books, periodicals, maps, microforms, DVDs, CDs, phonograph records, and vertical files. Published and catalogued materials can be found through the online library catalog, while uncatalogued resources (Louisiana state documents, maps, and vertical files) may be found in indexes linked through the Special Collections website.
Louisiana state documents are organized by Louisiana document number according to subject. The Louisiana Map Collection contains state and local maps, both current and historical. Vertical files consist of clippings from various Louisiana newspapers that have been organized topically for quicker access. Indexes for these files may be browsed in three categories: General, University, and Biographies. The Louisiana Room also includes an extensive Genealogy Collection for researching family histories in Louisiana.
Rare Book Collection
The Rare Book Collection contains items published before 1900, and items that have intrinsic value such as limited editions or copies inscribed by the author. Topics include horticulture, architecture, and French literature and history. All holdings are listed in the Library Catalog and identified by the designation "Rare Book Room." A full searchable list of the Rare Book Collection can be found on the Library website.
The Digital Archives includes digitized collections of the Acadiana Manuscripts Collection and those donated to Special Collections. These collections include digitized and born-digital materials. Special Collections provides digitization services for research and scholarly use. Digitization efforts are utilized to preserve the University's archival holdings and to increase their accessibility for the community. Special Collections also produces digital exhibits that reflect parts of collections from the University Archives and Acadiana Manuscripts Collection.
UL Lafayette Institutional Repository
UL Lafayette's institutional repository is an online space that brings together and provides open access to the University's scholarship and intellectual content. The repository accepts scholarship in a wide variety of formats, including PDF documents, audio/video, and images. Scholarship includes research articles, class projects, presentations, digital collections, and much more.
Types and Formats
Special Collections acquires a wide variety of materials in both physical and digital formats. Materials include institutional records, personal papers, genealogy, newspapers, manuscripts, government publications, audiovisual recordings, microforms, maps, graphic images, ephemera, monographic series, serials, and theses/dissertations. Special Collections will not accept digital materials in outdated formats that cannot be supported within the department. If obsolete formats are transferred from a UL Lafayette division, Special Collections may recommend it be taken to a different repository.
Special Collections is open to all researchers within and outside the University. All researchers must produce proper identification (for UL Lafayette community, their Cajun Card; for outside community, a picture ID such as a driver’s license or passport) and complete or have on file a current registration form, which is provided by Special Collections staff. When requesting archival materials, a request form needs to be filled out for each individual collection.
Staff and Services
Special Collections is made up of three professional faculty and three library specialists. Each employee helps with assisting patrons in finding sources for research needs. Patrons can make requests via in person, email, phone, mail, and live chat. Email and mail requests are routed to the Reference Archivist, while the employee assigned at the reference desk answers live chat. Only Special Collections staff is allowed to retrieve materials from the archives and Louisiana Room (please refer to the Jefferson Caffery Reading Room Patrons Policy for more information).
Special Collections acquires materials related to the Acadiana region and south and southwest Louisiana. On rare occasions, Special Collections will acquire non-Louisiana documents that either are related to Acadiana or complement the current collections.
For all donations, donors need to complete and sign a Deed of Gift. Within this agreement, physical property rights and legal title of donated materials are assigned/transferred to Special Collections and Edith Garland Dupré Library, University of Louisiana at Lafayette. It is the intent of Special Collections to make the materials available for research on an unrestricted basis and donors have the option to allow materials to be digitized for preservation purposes and/or inclusion on the University’s institutional repository and the Louisiana Digital Library. Donors may also set limiting conditions on donations and can choose how copyright is transferred. For materials transferred from outside departments and/or institutions, the person conducting the transfer must complete a Transfer Agreement form. All Deeds of Gift and Transfer Agreements are signed by the Head of Special Collections and the donor/transfer representative.
Special Collections may decline certain gifts if they duplicate already-held materials, if their condition would require extensive preservation, or if they fall outside the scope of its collections.
Items may be deaccessioned from collections for various purposes. In order to deaccession items, a Deaccession Form needs to be filled out, explaining what the item(s) is, what collection it came from, the purpose for deaccessioning, and the method of removal. The methods of removal include returning the item(s) to the donor(s) and discarding; this decision must be made based on the original Deed of Gift and/or Transfer Agreement. If discarding, the staff member recommending deaccession needs to state how the item(s) will be discarded and must include the name of someone who will witness the discarding. The staff member must sign the form and get signed approval from the Head of Special Collections, the Assistant Dean of Technical Services, and ultimately the Dean of the Libraries. Once all three signatures are acquired, the item(s) can be removed from the collection.
All materials in Special Collections are non-circulating, meaning they cannot be taken out of the department. Certain materials may be loaned out on a case-by-case basis. In these cases, patrons must complete loan request forms with signed permissions by the Head of Special Collections. Patrons must return the materials by a decided-upon date. If requesting Louisiana Room materials, the Reference Archivist must sign the request forms in addition to the Head of Special Collections. Patrons accept full responsibility for any loss or damage incurred. No reproductions or other disposition may be made of this material without the written permission of the Head of Special Collections. Items may not be displayed or reproduced without the express written consent of the Head of Special Collections and in keeping with federal copyright laws and/or donor agreements (please see the University’s Digitization and Photoduplication Policy for more information). If the Head of Special Collections is not present to sign forms, then forms must be signed by the Assistant Dean of Technical Services. If the Assistant Dean of Technical Services is not present, then the forms must be signed by the Dean of the Libraries. Patrons must request loans and sign forms in person at Special Collections; loan requests will not be accepted for remote patrons.
Digitization and Photoduplication
Special Collections offers photocopying and digitization services. Patrons may photocopy and scan materials in the Jefferson Caffery Reading Room, or they may request the Digitization Archivist to provide digital copies. To photocopy materials, patrons must go to the Circulation department to obtain a photocopy card. Special Collections will not provide a card to photocopy. For digitization requests, patrons must complete a Digitization Request Form on the University Libraries website. The request is then forwarded to the Digitization Archivist.
Please see the Library’s Digitization and Photoduplication Policy for policies on scanning, copyright, fees, and publishing of Special Collections materials.
Records management is carried out by the Head of Special Collections. Please see the University’s Records Management Policy for more information.
Special Collections materials are acquired almost exclusively through donations. The department does not purchase collections or items unless there is an unusual significance that is vitally complementary to the archives. The department accepts materials on loan or deposit, though usually with the understanding that they will be donated at a specified later date. The department also encourages monetary donations through the UL Foundation to help with acquiring needed supplies for processing and preservation.
Special Collections is closely aligned with the following:
- Cajun and Creole Music Collection
- Ernest J. Gaines Center
- Center for Louisiana Studies
- Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Public Policy Center
Special Collections is also a member of the Louisiana Digital Consortium, and contributes materials to the Louisiana Digital Library.
Any questions regarding this policy, or about information not covered, should be directed to:
Head of Special Collections