The purpose of this guide is to highlight specialized archives and special collections information resources. The information resources related to archives and special collections are broad and interdisciplinary.
"Archives" is most recognized as the term designating the repository where papers and records are held and made available to researchers. However, "archives" is also defined as the records of an institution or organization. Examples of this are the records of the United States Government at the National Archives and Records Administration; state and county records at the Pennsylvania State Archives; and college records at the PCOM Archives.
"Special Collections" refers to materials other than institutional or organizational records that are kept for their historical value. These collections are often divided according to format and can include manuscript collections (where "manuscript" is used to designate personal papers); audio-visual collections; oral history collections; theses and dissertations; and rare books. Special Collections are usually focused on a limited number of subject areas.