Stony Brook University
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Illuminated Manuscript
Illuminated Manuscript, 1450

Special Collections and University Archives at Stony Brook University acquire, organize, preserve, and provide access to primary and secondary source material in a variety of formats to support the educational, research, and entrepreneurial endeavors of Stony Brook University. Access and services are extended to neighboring communities, to the wider geographic region, and to remote users to advance the university's leadership role in scholarship, economic growth, technology, and culture


Special Collections opened its doors in 1969, when Roger H. Guedalla and George Quasha of the Stony Brook University's Department of English purchased a modern literature collection that was comprised of books and manuscripts by the extraordinary group of authors and poets who had been involved with the Black Mountain College in North Carolina. The manuscripts are now housed within the Historic and Literary Manuscripts Collection and include original materials by Robert Creeley, Charles Olson, and Fielding Dawson. Special Collections and University Archives is the recipient of the 2009 New York Board of Regents and New York State Archives "Annual Archives Award for Program Excellence in a Historical Records Repository."




Special Collections are library and archival materials in any format (e.g., rare books, manuscripts, photographs, institutional archives) that are generally characterized by their artifactual or monetary value, physical format, uniqueness or rarity, and/or an institutional commitment to long-term preservation and access. They generally are housed in a separate unit with specialized security and user services (source: Taking Our Pulse: The OCLC Research Survey of Special Collections and Archives, OCLC, 2010).


1. Materials created or received by a person, family, or organization, public or private, in the conduct of their affairs and preserved because of the enduring value contained in the information they contain or as evidence of the functions and responsibilities of their creator, especially those materials maintained using the principles of provenance, original order, and collective control; permanent records.

2. The division within an organization responsible for maintaining the organization's records of enduring value.

3. An organization that collects the records of individuals, families, or other organizations; a collecting archives.

4. The professional discipline of administering such collections and organizations.

5. The building (or portion thereof) housing archival collections.

6. A published collection of scholarly papers, especially as a periodical.

A finding aid is: a tool that facilitates discovery of information within a collection of records; and a description of records that gives the repository physical and intellectual control over the materials and that assists users to gain access to and understand the materials. (Source: Society of American Archivists)


The collection development strategy defines the scope and strengths of the collection, methods of acquisition, procedures governing access, and loan and exhibition policies. The emergency response manual outlines the policies and procedures adopted by the University Libraries to manage environmental threats to the collections.

Featured banner image credit: Walter Hamady.

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