General Policies

The Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center, home of Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, 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

Purdue University Archives and Special Collections 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

Purdue University Archives and Special Collections serves as a repository for the records, manuscripts, publications, and other historical materials documenting the intellectual, cultural, and administrative history of Purdue. It is the responsibility of the Archives to balance researchers’ needs for access with the needs for confidentiality of persons and institutions whose activities are reflected in the collections. The Archives is committed to providing open and equal access to the materials in its care to researchers, educators, students, and the public without discrimination or preferential treatment. The full access policy is available at this link.

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.