Special Collections

Learn about:

Special collections that are part of the UAF Rasmuson Library:

  • the Alaska Collection;
  • Archives;
  • Government Documents;
  • Reference Collection.

Collections are groupings of similar materials within a library. Special Collections may consist of items related by place, group, time period, subject, or type of material. They may be focused on a specific kind of material such as reference tools, government documents, maps, periodicals, or films. Or, they may be concentrated on a subject or field of study, such as the Alaska Collection.

When a library serves a group of patrons with very similar research needs, the library may focus its collection to meet those needs. When a library serves a large diverse community with a variety of research needs, it may feel a need to create special collections to meet the needs of its population. The larger a library or library system, the more likely it is to have special collections. It is not unusual for large libraries to house a special collection in a separate building. There may be an Agricultural library, a Physical Sciences library, an Engineering library, a Government Documents library, a Maps library, etc.

Special collections are created to improve access to materials of a particular type by placing them in one physical location. Items in a special collection can be identified by a "collection designator" which is included in the call number such as PER (periodicals), ALASKA (Alaska books or periodicals), BIOSCI (biosciences), DOCS (government documents), INDEXES, MAP, JUVL (juvenile), REF (reference), ORAL HISTORY, etc. Collection designators alert users to the location of the item quickly.

Major Special Collections at UAF

The Alaska and Polar Regions Department

Located on Level 2, the Alaska and Polar Regions Department (APR) is the world's largest Alaska Collection. The APR department acquires preserves and provides access to materials that document the past and present of Alaska and the Circumpolar Regions, including Antarctica. This material includes books about Alaska, Northern Canada, Greenland, Siberia and the European North. Alaska Periodicals and special collections such as manuscripts, photographs, rare books and maps, oral histories and films. APR holds most of the Rasmuson Library's special collections.

Alaska-related books and periodicals are in 'open stacks' and accessible during regular library hours. The archival materials must be requested and viewed in the APR Research Room.

  • Alaska Reference Collection: Located at the entrance to Level 2, the Alaska Reference section is a good place to start your Alaska research. This collection contains dictionaries, encyclopedias, gazetteers, indexes, bibliographies of Alaskana, Arctic and Antarctic regions, and current phone books for most Alaska towns and cities, that provide answers to quick questions and facts. The spectrum of authoritative works in the Alaska Reference collection includes the Dictionary of Alaska Place Names, Alaska Trees and Common Shrubs, Guide to the Birds of Alaska, Russian America: A Biographical Dictionary; A Guide to Historical Photographs in the Alaska and Polar Regions Department, Handbook of North American Indians, The Alaska Almanac, Alaska Historical Documents Since 1867, Yupik Eskimo Dictionary, Shipwrecks on the Alaskan Shelf, Whaling Logbooks & Journals, 1613-1927, and more.

    Reference books do not circulate.

  • Alaska Book Collection: Located on the East wall, the Alaska book collection covers all aspects of Alaska and the Polar Regions. These books are cataloged in Goldmine (the library catalog), and are an excellent place to find secondary source materials on Alaska.

    Most of the Alaska book collection circulates.

  • Alaska Newspapers: Alaska's newspapers contain a wealth of Alaska information. Current Alaska newspapers are located in hanging files near the Level 2 entrance. Back issues of the newspapers are on microfilm and stored in cabinets located on the North wall, near the entrance to APR's Research Room. Although the Rasmuson Library collects Alaska newspapers, the guide, Alaska Newspapers on Microfilm, 1866-1998 is helpful for finding Alaska newspapers (a hard copy is located on top of the microfilm cabinets). Note that not all newspapers listed in the guide are held at the Library and may require interlibrary loan.

    Microfilmed newspapers require a microfilm reader/printer. Machines are readily available on Level 3 and accommodate printing.

  • Alaska/Polar Periodicals: APR holds paper or microform copies of most Alaska Periodicals, which are located on the West wall near the Level 3 entrance. Access to Alaska periodicals is provided through the Library Catalog. The Alaska Periodical Index indexes articles on Alaska and Polar subjects from over 500 magazines and journals received by the Library. The Alaska/Polar Periodicals Index only provides citations to journal articles. Therefore, you will need to find the actual articles in the periodicals.
  • Historical Photograph Collections: The Historical Photograph Collections contain over 700,000 images from the 1870s forward. Reproduction services for historical prints, slides and digital images are available from our photo lab. Except for Butler Brothers' collection, the historical images are online available for viewing in the Research Room.
  • Oral History Program: Located in the Alaska and Polar Regions Department Research Room, the Oral History Program has over 8,000 hours of recordings with Alaskans of different cultures and experiences from the 1940s to the present. The Oral History Program also produces Project Jukebox, a series of multi-media oral history databases on CD-ROM. Access to Project Jukebox is provided through a workstation in the Research Room and is available at a workstation on Level 5. Two Jukebox projects are accessible on the web through APR's web page (http://library.uaf.edu/oralhistory/jukebox/pjhome.htm).

    Taped copies are available for checkout and interlibrary loan. Staff is available to assist with searches.

  • Rare Books and Maps:
    • The Rare Book Collectionhas over 5,000 volumes of early exploration accounts and studies of Alaska and the Polar Regions from the 15th to early 20th centuries. It is one of the world's leading collections on Russian America.

      Copies of the Alaska rare books are on microfiche in the A- Book C-.

    • The Rare Map collection is especially strong in maps of Alaska from 16th century speculative cartography to the gold rush era. 200 of the rarest items are available on the WWW at Collections from the University of Alaska: Maps.
    • The Manuscript Map Collection consists of more than 18,000 maps, plats, and charts emphasizing 20th century Alaskan development. Topics include mining claims, cannery sites, and land use planning.
  • Film Archives: The Film Archives has moving images on film or videotape detailing many aspects of life in the North dating from 1925, including both amateur and professional footage. VHS copies are available for checkout and interlibrary loan. Selected film clips will soon be available online.
  • UAF Archives:The University Archives contain historically significant administrative records that date from the beginning of the University as the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines in 1917.
  • Hubert Wenger Eskimo Database
    This electronic, full-text database contains 260 books and articles pertaining to the first contacts and first observations of Inuit/Eskimo groups in Chukotka, Alaska, Canada, and Greenland. The database can be searched by keyword or subject, and includes images.

    This website only works in Internet Explorer browsers. It will not work with Safari, Netscape, Firefox, Opera, etc.

Government Documents and Maps

Government Documents and Maps is located on Level 5. Refer to the Government Documents reading to learn more about these unique resources.

General Collections

Includes the General Book Collection

  • Reference Collection: The Reference Collection is located on Level 5, near the Reference Desk. See Reference Services and Sources to read about reference services and resources.
  • Periodicals Collection: The Periodical Collection includes scholarly journals, popular magazines, and newspapers. Some periodicals are in paper form, but many are in microformat. There are several microform reader/printers available for public use. The Periodical Collection is located on Level 3 and is open all the hours that the Library is open.
  • Film Library: The film collection contains videotapes and 16mm films covering academic subject areas as well as classic and contemporary feature films. The Film Library is located on Level 5.

The Mather Library at the Geophysical Institute (GI), located on the West Ridge of the UAF Main Campus, is a separate research library supporting both the Geophysical Institute and the International Arctic Research Center. It is not considered a special collection of the Rasmuson Library. The GI Library collection focuses on atmospheric sciences, glaciology, global change, ice snow, permafrost, remote sensing, seismology, space physics, and volcanology.

This page was last modified on November 10, 2014