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Archives 101: Plan Your Visit

Basic information and tips on how to search for and access archives.

Prepare For Your Visit

You are welcome to drop by during our business hours. These are, however, some tips to get the most out of your visit to the archives:

  • Know what you want to look at
    • Search our database and make note of the Reference Code for any materials you would like to access. You may find that what you are looking for is available online so check it out and you may save yourself a trip.
  • Let us know you're coming
    • Email us and let us know what you would like to access (with Reference Codes) and when you would like to view it. This will ensure that the materials you wish to access will be ready for you when you arrive.
  • Plan your time
    • Look at the physical description of the materials you want to access. This will help you determine the amount of time you will need to spend working with the materials. Our collections are non-circulating, which means you can only access them in the archives during business hours. 
  • Things to bring or leave behind
    • You are welcome to use your laptop or tablet to make notes
    • You are welcome to bring your personal cell phone or camera to take approved photographs with the flash off
    • Food and drink are not allowed in the archives reading room
    • We provide pencils for your use and do not allow the use of pens
    • If you are hoping to use our archival scanner or get audio/video files, we recommend bringing a 2 GB USB stick
  • Making copies in the reference room
    • All copying and photography must be approved by an archivist.
    • A photocopier is available in our reference room which uses the pay-per-use Papercut system for UNBC students and staff. Non-UNBC visitors can utilize the photocopier by paying with cash or cheque (B&W only, 10 cents a page). Depending on the material you wish to photocopy, archival staff may do the copying for you or may allow you to self-serve copy.
    • A high-quality archival flatbed scanner is available in our reference room and can be used free of charge for a limited amount of scanning. Depending on the material you wish to photocopy, archival staff may do the copying for you or may allow you to self-serve copy. Extensive amounts of digitization require going through our reproduction agreement process and may have applicable fees.
  • Handing archival material and rare books
    • Please remember that these materials are rare, unique, and irreplaceable. Please handle them gently.
    • Keep material in its original order at all times. Bookmarks will be provided if you need to remove items for copying.
    • White cotton gloves will be provided to you if you are accessing certain types of materials, such as photographs.
  • Accessing restricted records
    • Due to the personal nature of some of the information captured in archival records, some files may be restricted in full or in part, which means immediate access to those files will likely not be possible.
    • To apply for access to this restricted material, researchers must make an Application to Restricted Records which will be reviewed by the University Privacy Officer. Contact the archives for more details.

Archives' Value to Scholarship

Archives consist of materials known as "primary sources" in the humanities and "gray literature" in the sciences. Archival materials are unique and often have had little to any scholarly attention. This makes archival materials extremely valuable to scholars who are looking for a new lens through which to focus their research. Archival materials offer an unfiltered glimpse into the past and as such archives are extremely multidisciplinary. For this reason archives can be difficult to search when looking for something very specific. However, having a general topic of interest with significant contextual knowledge (i.e. know the major figures and organizations) can result in a very fruitful archival search. The greatest research aid in archival research is the knowledge of the archivist themselves as archivists are often the only ones who have directly worked with these materials since they were first created. Archivists strive to make this knowledge accessible through finding aids but some information undoubtedly gets missed. Come see what archival treasures you can discover for your research!

Ask an Archivist

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Northern BC Archives & Special Collections

Monday to Friday: 8:30 AM-4:30 PM
Closed Weekends & Statutory Holidays

Available for Special Collections as staffing permits. Email before arrival to confirm availability.

Recommended for Special Collections. Required for archival research. Email to schedule.

LOCATION: UNBC Prince George
Geoffrey R. Weller Library
4th Floor (Room 5-423)