Special Collections & University Archives

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to be a GVSU student or faculty member to use Special Collections?
Do I have to make an appointment to visit Special Collections?
What is the difference between Special Collections and University Archives?
What is the difference between using materials in Special Collections and other University libraries?
Can I get photocopies or reproductions?
Why would you have a recently published book in your collection?
I need to use a wheelchair. Is Special Collections accessible to me?
How do I cite Special Collections material?
Can you tell me what my old books are worth?

 

Do I have to be a GVSU student or faculty member to use Special Collections?

No. We welcome all researchers with an interest in our holdings. Please see the Use Policy to learn about the registration process and guidelines for using our collections.

Do I have to make an appointment to visit Special Collections?

No. It is, however, wise to call ahead if you are coming from out-of-town or if you have a complex research need.

What is the difference between Special Collections and the University Archives?

The University Archives is the official repository for University records and other materials reflecting upon the history and administration of Grand Valley State University. Special Collections preserves material related to a wide range of subjects and formats. The collections are world-wide in scope with particular focus on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War; Michigan history, literature, and culture; and the history of the book and printing arts. The earliest document in Special Collections is dated 1477.

What is the difference between using materials in Special Collections and other University libraries?

Books in Special Collections are housed in closed stacks and do not circulate, which means that patrons cannot browse the way they can in the rest of the University Libraries. Use and reproduction of materials may be restricted due to the condition of the item, privacy or other considerations.

Can I get photocopies or reproductions?

Since many of the materials in Special Collections are fragile, photocopying and scanning may be restricted. Staff members will evaluate your copying request on a case-by-case basis. If your request is approved, it will be carried out by Special Collections staff and will be completed on a staff availability basis. Please see our Policies for reproduction and publication for more information.

Why would you have a recently published book in your collection?

There are several reasons why we might have a recent publication. For example, we collect comprehensively the work of some Michigan writers and books for our collection of Michigan in the Novel. All books in Special Collections are listed in the Library Catalog with the designation Seidman House in the Location field. Many of these books may also be found in the Universities other libraries.

I need to use a wheelchair. Is Special Collections accessible to me?

Yes. Enter the Seidman House building via the main entrance, which features a ramp and automatic door opener. The Reading Room is immediately to your right. We have closed stacks, so staff always retrieves material for our researchers.

How do I cite Special Collections material?

Special Collections staff will assist you with creating the proper citation.

Can you tell me what my old books are worth?

It would be considered unethical for a staff member to appraise your books, but we can recommend sources of information:

  • The brochure Your Old Books, is a helpful starting point. It is available electronically from the website of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association. The website also provides information about purchasing paper copies of the brochure.
  • Commercial websites such as www.abebooks.com, www.powells.com, www.alibris.com, www.bookfinder.com, and the used book section of www.amazon.com list rare and out of print books. The asking prices for titles of the same edition and in similar condition may give you an idea of the current market value for the volumes in your collection.

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Page last modified September 13, 2012