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Special Collections & University Archives: Research Visits

Welcome to our LibGuide! Use the pages here to learn more about our department and research collections.

On-Campus Research Visits

Our Locations

Attention students, faculty, staff and patrons, our department in Edinburg is moving to the 4th floor of the University Library.

University Library, Brownsville
BLIBR 2.202

One West University Boulevard
Brownsville, Texas 78520
(956) 882-7968

University Library, Edinburg
ELIBR 4.100

1201 W University Drive
Edinburg, TX 78539
(956) 665-2726

Campus Research Visits

Campus research visits are available for individuals by appointment only.

  • Book your SCA Appointment online!
  • To request an appointment, select SCA from the menu and pick your desired date and time. You will receive an email confirmation for your appointment booking.
  • Please note: UTRGV affiliated users should request appointments using their institutional email address.

Background Research

  • To maximize your time at Special Collections & University Archives, background research will be conducted by library staff ahead of your visit. Therefore, the more information you can provide in advance, the better, i.e., full names, dates, places, and specific documents.
  • If you have not done so already, then please submit an Online Research Request to help our staff identify relevant resources for your visit. Provide detailed information about the scope of your research, including subjects/names, locations, and dates.
  • When completing the online form be sure to enter your existing appointment date when requested.

Before your visit

Preparation for your Visit

  • Check published sources to gain as much information about your topic as possible, including names, dates, and places.
  • Search the online finding aids (for archival materials) and online catalog (for books, newspapers, maps) to find out what resources we have. If you don't find what you are looking for, we have additional collections which have not yet been described online.
  • Review our Best Practices for Your Research Visit.

Background Research

  • To maximize your time at Special Collections & University Archives, background research will be conducted by library staff ahead of your visit. Therefore, the more information you can provide in advance, the better, i.e., full names, dates, places, and specific documents.
  • If you have not done so already, then please consider submitting an Online Research Request prior to your visit to help our staff identify relevant resources.
  • When completing the online form be sure to enter your existing appointment date when requested.

During Your Visit

Researcher Registration

  • Researchers are required to schedule an appointment ahead of each visit. Book your SCA Appointments online!
  • Please bring photo identification to your visit and your appointment confirmation.
  • You will be asked to agree our reading room guidelines and policies before you are given access to materials.
  • Please review our Best Practices for Your Research Visit.

Personal Belongings

  • To safeguard our materials, patrons are only permitted to bring paper, pencils (no pens), laptops, mobile/personal hotspots, cameras, and audio recorders into the reading room. We will provide paper and pencils if requested.
  • A locker or cabinet will be provided for storing bags, backpacks, purses, binders, books, jackets, or any other personal items during your visit.
  • Cell phone use is limited to your camera. Phone calls are not permitted in the reading room.
  • All personal items used in the Reading Room are subject to search.
  • Failure to comply with policies may result in denial of access to the collections.
  • Theft or mutilation of holdings is a crime that may be prosecuted.

Handling of Collections and Archival Materials

  • Archival materials are shelved in closed stacks and cannot be browsed. A staff member will bring the materials to you.
  • All materials housed in our collections are to remain within the Reading Room. At no time are materials allowed outside of the Reading Room.
  • Our materials are unique, often old, and sometimes brittle or easily damaged. Therefore, every researcher is responsible for assisting in the preservation of our documents by adhering to our policies for careful handling and care of research materials.
  • Patrons who carelessly handle materials may be denied further access and/or prosecuted for damage or theft of collection materials.

Maintain Original Order of Materials

The order and arrangement of the materials are important to a researcher. Follow these rules to maintain that order:

  • Only one folder may be removed from a box a time.
  • Use a document marker (green folder provided) to hold its place in the box.
  • Pages must stay in order. Lay the folder flat and turn pages over from right to left (like reading a book).
  • Items are not to be reordered or removed from the folder.
  • If you find any problems (such as pages out of order, torn or marked pages), notify a staff member. Do not try to fix or rearrange the items yourself.
  • If you find any materials that are stapled together, please notify a staff member. Do not try to remove any staples yourself as this may result in damage.

Careful Handling

Researchers are asked to respect the fragile and often ephemeral nature of the research material by handling it with care to prevent harm and ensure preservation.

  • All materials must be handled with clean, dry hands. Patrons with painted nails may be required to use gloves.
  • For particularly vulnerable materials such as historical photographs, staff will provide cotton gloves. Avoid touching the surface of any photographic image, slide, or other graphic material.
  • Keep the folder flat on the table. Documents are not to be placed in a lap or propped unless instructed to do so by staff. 
  • Never lay a book flat, especially a rare book, as it may damage the spine. Staff may provide special cushions for reviewing books.
  • Turn one page at a time slowly and carefully, touching only the margins to prevent damaging, tearing, or soiling the surface of the paper.
  • Do not lean on or put undue pressure on documents.
  • Do not insert pages of note paper, note cards, or other objects on top of original material to take notes.
  • Do not use post-it notes, fold pages, trace, add or erase marks from materials, or handle in any way likely to result in damage.

After Your Visit


  • Keep up with your citations during your visit.
  • Please use the following format for citation of archival materials used in research and publication:

[Title of Collection]; [item description], [dates]. [Number of Collection], Box [#], Folder [#], [name of item, e.g. Photograph of McAllen, 1951]. University Library, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, [Edinburg or Brownsville], Texas.


  • The Library does not own the copyright in much of the material in its collection and is therefore unable to grant copyright permission to publish those items.
  • It is the researcher's responsibility to determine copyright and other possible restrictions on reuse (e.g. publicity, privacy, moral rights) and to obtain proper permission when publishing or distributing materials found in these collections.
  • Learn more about our Digital Collections Copyright.

Licensing and Reproductions

  • If you would like to use one or more of Special Collections & University Archives' resources for publication, whether in print or online, you must fill out a licensing and reproduction form.
  • Please complete the Agreement for Use of Reproductions of Materials and email it as an attachment to Feel free to contact us for additional assistance or to address your questions and concerns.

Best Practices for Your Research Visit

Best Practices for All Patrons

We recommend the following best practices an effort to make the most of your on-campus visit—students, faculty, staff, and visitors.

  • Advance Notice Is Required: Avoid an unnecessary trip! Ensure we will be open and available, and the requested materials will be ready for prior to your visit. Request an appointment.
  • Arrive on Time: Don’t be late! Appointments are reserved based on the limited space and staff available, and late arrivals will reduce your research time.
  • No Photocopies or Scanning: Research materials are in-library use only and photocopies are not available. Non-flash photography is permitted.
  • No Guest WiFi and limited internet access. UTRGV does not provide guest access to WiFi; a computer workstation with limited guest access for viewing online finding aids or digital resources is available.
  • What to Bring with You:
    • Paper, pencils (no pens), and digital camera or smartphone for photographing materials without flashes.
    • Laptops or tablets maybe used with personal hotspots.
    • Lockers are available (in Edinburg) to store bags, backpacks, and personal items during your visit.
  • Eat Before Your Visit: Food and drink are not permitted in our reading rooms.
  • Obtain a Parking Permit: If you are not affiliated with the University, then you may wish to inquire with Parking Services.
  • Consult library hours and updates.

Search the Library Catalog

Search for books, maps, and other resources


Quick Links

Online Research Request

Maximize your time and effort. Let our staff assist you with finding and accessing resources online.