General Policies

The Purdue University Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center welcomes all researchers interested in our collections. Our mission is to support the discovery, learning, and engagement goals of Purdue University by identifying, collecting, preserving, and making available for research records and papers of enduring value created or received by the University and its employees.

Collection Development Policy

The Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center of the Purdue University Libraries collects, preserves, and makes available to University students, faculty, staff, researchers and the public rare or unique materials in a wide variety of formats. Archivists select content for the Archives and Special Collections based on the following criteria:

  • Materials relate to the history, administration, or culture of Purdue University
  • Materials relate to the history of Indiana
  • Materials relate to a subject area of distinction for Purdue University as the land grant university for the state of Indiana (i.e. agriculture, aeronautics and astronautics, engineering, science, technology, business)
  • Materials are rare or unique and support the research and teaching needs of the University

Our full collection development policy can be viewed here.

Appraisal Policy

The Purdue University Archives and Special Collections welcomes gifts of manuscript or archival materials that fit within its collecting policy guidelines. When gifts are of a substantial nature, due to value or volume, professional appraisals are beneficial to donors for tax purposes. Purdue University cannot appraise gifts of materials, nor can University employees appraise materials submitted or brought in for identification or estimation of value by patrons. The Internal Revenue Service regards archives, libraries, and museums as interested parties, and appraisals prepared by them for gifts that they receive are subject to question. As an interested party, it is inappropriate for the recipient of a gift to also be its appraiser. A disinterested third party should always act as an independent appraiser of the archival materials for the donor. Patrons and potential donors may contact the Appraisers Association of America, Inc., 541 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York 10022, for a list of local appraisers of manuscripts, rare books, and other historic materials.

Access Policy

Collection materials in the Archives and Special Collections are accessible to Purdue University students, faculty, staff, and the general public. Except for emergency personnel and maintenance workers responding to a particular facilities issue, no individuals working outside the Archives and Special Collections unit are allowed access to the Archives stacks area. Maintenance workers responding to a particular facilities issue may access the stacks if access is warranted and prior permission from the Head of Archives and Special Collections is obtained. Except in an emergency situation, all maintenance, cleaning, and facilities work must be done during regular open hours and in the presence of a full-time staff member in the Archives and Special Collections unit. Staff in the Archives and Special Collections unit retrieve materials for students, faculty, staff, and the public. Restricted records are available only with written permission from the donor and the Head of Archives and Special Collections. Archival materials are non-circulating and may not be charged or checked out by patrons under any circumstances. Original archival materials will not be made available for inter-library loan. When surrogates of original materials are available, these may be made available for inter-library loan at the discretion of the Head of Archives and Special Collections.

Use Policy

Patrons will register and present photographic identification before using materials in the Archives and Special Collections, and patrons will fill out a request slip that includes the patron's name, address, and identification number. No more than four boxes, books, or other materials will be retrieved for one person at a time. Patrons may only use one box, book, or item at a time. Patrons' belongings will be put away before they can use the materials. No pens, markers, or other harmful writing utensils will be allowed near the records; only pencils may be used for taking notes. Patrons are allowed to bring laptop computers into the library, but not laptop bags. Patrons under the age of seventeen must be accompanied in the Reading Room by an adult at all times. No food, gum, or beverages are allowed in the reading room. In special circumstances, food and beverages are allowed in the Archives and Special Collections space if they are in conjunction with a planned special event hosted by the Libraries. For more information regarding researcher use, please visit our conducting research page.