UCLA Library Special Collections (LSC) acquires archives, rare books, manuscripts, photographs, ephemera, audiovisual materials, digital files, cartographic and other primary source materials of a rare or unique nature. We acquire new holdings predominately through donations and transfers, and purchase a select amount of material. We also create new scholarly documentation through conducting oral history interviews that support our current collecting priorities.
The nature of stewarding special collections holdings requires LSC to be selective in what it acquires and makes available for research.
UCLA Library Special Collections makes a full stewardship commitment to materials we acquire and make acquisitions decisions with the expectation that we will be able to preserve materials adequately and make them discoverable and available for research.
The UCLA University Archives maintains a selection of the official records of the university, materials that document student and campus life, including athletics, selected oral histories of UCLA, and other archival and published materials affiliated with UCLA (1919-) and with its predecessor, the Los Angeles State Normal School (1881-1919).
For more information about the collections and materials available online see: UCLA University History Research Guide.
For decades, UCLA Library Special Collections has been documenting the breadth of Los Angeles area history and culture, going back to the Mexican and Spanish eras. Traditional strengths include Californiana, early photography, historical periodicals, maps, literature, the arts and fashion, the papers of outstanding civic figures, and ethnic communities, especially Japanese Americans, African Americans, Chinese Americans, Mexican Americans, and Native Americans.
In 2009, the UCLA Library created Collecting Los Angeles, placed an emphasis on broadly defined communities whose history was overlooked but crucial to understanding the development of the metropolis. In 2019, LSC created the position of Archivist/Librarian for Los Angeles Communities and Cultures.
Two curators were hired for this position, Lizeth Ramirez and Dalena Sanderson-Hunter, who have slightly differing specialties. Please see their descriptions and contact information below:
Current Collecting Priorities
Collection priorities will be reviewed periodically and updated as needed. They do not preclude the acquisition of archives, rare books, manuscripts, photographs, ephemera, audiovisual materials, digital files, and other primary source materials of a rare or unique nature that fall outside of the above described collection priorities.
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Current Collecting Priorities
Library Special Collections documents the history of thought and practice, discoveries and inventions, research trends, communities and communications, and teaching methods and materials in medicine and its allied health fields and in the biological sciences. Our most significant efforts are devoted to building collections that meet the curriculum needs of UCLA students and faculty, and the research needs of scholars on a local, national, and worldwide basis. We are devoting greater effort to acquiring historical materials which complement but go well beyond longtime collection strengths by expanding into new and underrepresented topics and perspectives, non-dominant and underdocumented local and Pacific Rim communities, and controversial literature in medicine and the sciences.
For more information, contact:
Instead of organizing collection development into traditional subject-based categories, we have reorganized our collecting priorities into several clusters which chiefly represent multidisciplinary teaching and research initiatives at UCLA. These will evolve as needs are met or change, and in coordination with feedback from students, faculty, and researchers. Additional input will come from colleagues who are responsible for curating rare books, manuscripts, local communities, international studies, and other genres and fields which may provide fresh perspectives on the history of medicine and the sciences.
For more information about the collections and materials available online, see Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections for the Sciences Research Guide.
UCLA Library Special Collections' holdings cover a range of geographical areas beyond the United States. Traditional strengths include Mexican manuscripts, pamphlets, and ephemera from the colonial era through the twentieth century; and historical photographs, independence-era publications, and Literatura de Cordel from Latin America.
For more information, contact:
Library Special Collections' holdings support research in the history of printing, the book trade and bookmaking, and the graphic arts. Traditional strengths in our collections include Western European medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, Middle Eastern manuscripts, and early printing (1465-1600), in particular, early Italian printing (including the foremost collection in North America of the Aldine Press). Our collections of British and American children's books (many of which date back to the eighteenth century) and artists' books also exemplify the craft of bookmaking and publishing.
See also: Discover Collections on our home page: UCLA Library Special Collections.
UCLA Library Special Collections (LSC) acquires archives, rare books, manuscripts, printed ephemera, photographs, audiovisual materials, digital files, objects, and other primary source materials of a rare or unique nature. We acquire new holdings predominately through donations and transfers and also purchase a select amount of material. We also create new scholarly documentation through conducting oral history interviews that support our current collecting priorities.
The nature of stewarding special collections holdings requires LSC to be selective in what it acquires and makes available for research. This document outlines the Rare Books and History of Printing philosophy, collecting scope, and current priorities, along with the criteria it applies in evaluating potential acquisitions
This collection documents the global history of printing and rare books and includes materials ranging from the earliest East Asian and European printing to contemporary pop-up books.
The distinctive collections at UCLA are our greatest asset. We will continue to strengthen our collections by specifically targeting materials that will diversify their contents. Diversity, in this case, does not simply mean adding titles that we do not hold. Rather, it means that we seek to bring new materials representing non-hegemonic voices into our collections. We will actively seek materials that represent the considerable contributions of women, minorities, and members of the LGBTQ community to the history of printing.
This aspect of collection development is primarily intended to allow us to overcome the Eurocentric legacy of traditional collection development. It is desirable to build context around materials in ways that fundamentally challenge collecting practices which ‘othered’ materials within the collection. LSC must seek to honestly reflect not just the gaze of the colonizer at the other, but must intentionally seek to represent the dialectical relationship between the oppressors and the oppressed. With this in mind, the acquisition of objects that represent a hegemonic view should be paired (whenever possible) with materials that create a dialogue or relativize universalist claims.
At present, many of our collection strengths have been developed in isolation. In order to enhance our distinctive holdings, future collection development will seek to build and enhance relationships with other materials in LSC. For example, while UCLA – LSC is one of the largest holders of Ethiopic manuscripts in North America, our holdings in Early Italian Ethiopic printing are weak. Actively seeking examples of Italian Ethiopic printing will allow us to both develop one of our distinctive collections and link the priorities of the history of printing to an unsurpassed manuscript collection. Relational collection development within LSC will enable us to create more coherent collections that encourage researchers in archival and manuscript materials to further avail themselves of printed materials.
Because of the history of our collecting practices, it is a fact that many communities that should have been represented by LSC collections have been neglected and excluded. When the need presents itself, funds are to be sought out that will actively address some of the areas of neglect. Collecting in these new areas is only defensible when 1) there is a clear and present need for the collection; 2) there is widespread support from other members of LSC staff and University Faculty; 3) and the collection enhances existing collection strengths.
The following is a list of existing strengths which will be actively supplemented over the next several years of collection development in consultation with faculty and library staff.
The UCLA Library Special Collections holdings of medieval and Renaissance manuscript materials created across Western Europe is comprised of approximately 400 bound manuscripts, and hundreds of documents, leaves, and bifolia. The collection is an exemplary teaching collection for paleography, history of the book, as well as the history and culture of the Medieval and Renaissance eras.
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The archives and personal papers of writers of a broad range of experiences and genres complement the UCLA Library Special Collections’ print holdings of twentieth and twenty-first-century literature. Ranging from writers, including Angelenos as well as those who emigrated from other parts of the U.S. and other countries, many have imagined both Utopian and dystopian Californias in genres and forms including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and journalism.
For more information about the collections and materials available online see:
Past exhibits in Library Special Collections
UCLA Library Special Collections selectively acquires, through purchase and gifts, materials in all formats that document the performing arts created in and around Los Angeles and Southern California including film, television, dance, theater, and music.
Within each area, collecting priority is given to archival materials that are created by organizations and/or individuals that represent Los Angeles, and Southern California, and those that reflect the work of underrepresented voices in these industries.
The collections document film in both aesthetic and technical aspects, spanning the history of the media from its beginnings to the present day. The holdings include the papers of artisans, writers, directors, and performers; the records of producers and studios; and a variety of posters, ephemera, and stills.
The collections document television in both aesthetic and technical aspects, spanning the history of the media from its beginnings to the present day. The holdings include the papers of artisans, writers, directors, and performers; the records of producers and studios; and a variety of posters, ephemera, and stills.
The majority of the music holdings cover the Los Angeles region in the twentieth century and include American popular music, papers of Los Angeles émigré composers, oral histories and papers of Los Angeles jazz musicians, and the music industry. Antiquarian music holdings date back to the ninth century and include music manuscripts, Italian libretti; early printed editions (including first editions) of full scores, and piano-vocal scores of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century operas, and original editions of musicology texts.
Los Angeles theater is represented by the records of local theater groups and includes collections of playbills, scripts, and assorted production materials.
Labor unions, an over-arching topic found in each subject area, will be considered in collaboration with Los Angeles Communities and Cultures collection development.
See the following Research Guides for more information about these materials:
The UCLA Libraries’ holdings of artists’ books include over 1,000 editions and unique works, ranging from fine press editions to sculptural and dynamic books with movable parts, to newly imagined forms and definitions of what a book can be and how its message can be conveyed.
Some exemplary artists’ books held in the UCLA Library Special Collections, UCLA Arts Library and other local Southern California institutions can be seen in these exhibits:
The UCLA Library Special Collections’ dance holdings support UCLA's long-standing participation in the creation, study, and reconstruction of modern dance, contemporary ballet, dance for stage and screen, kinesiology, dance therapy, education, criticism, and dance performance reflecting cultures throughout the world. The collections represent and support the exploration of dance scholarship, notation, education, and criticism.
Our focus is on collecting materials that shed light on choreographies, technique and training, and performance processes that can be viewed and handled in the Special Collections Reading Room, or in one of our classrooms.
For reference and other secondary resources on dance, see the following Research Guides:
The UCLA Library Punk Collective is a DIY group of punks who are interested in collecting and preserving the music and culture of the Los Angeles County punk scenes. The working group began in 2013 and consists of catalogers, archivists, audiovisual archivists, library staff, students, faculty, and other community members. The UCLA Punk Collective actively participates in outreach and programming within UCLA and throughout Los Angeles County. We work closely with our colleagues in the Music Library who steward commercially released punk recordings.
Sincere thanks to past UCLA Punk Collective Members: Peggy Alexander, Jillian Cuellar, Alex Cline, Lori Dedeyan, Megan Fraser, Gloria Gonzalez, Kearra Amaya Gopee, Melissa Haley, Tom Hyry, Courtney "Jet" Jacobs, Natalie Mattox, Eric Olsen, Cesar Reyes, Paola Salazar, Amanda Slater, and Rebecca Waldorf for their work and dedication, and to Sharon Farb and Todd Grappone for their support.
The UCLA Library Punk Collective documents the development and expression of punk music and cultures by collecting and preserving the materials of the people and organizations that are part of the various scenes throughout Los Angeles County from the mid-1970s to the present.
We work collaboratively with our communities, which include musicians, photographers, filmmakers, promoters, producers, record labels, artists, writers, venues, spaces, and fans. It is our mission to inspire and facilitate the discovery and research of punk cultures.
We are particularly interested in documenting how LA punk communities coalesce around music venues and DIY spaces across the County. We specifically want to collect materials that document the histories and stories of spaces that speak to marginalized punk communities of color, feminist punks, queer punks, riot grrrls, and punks with disabilities. Within these communities, genres of interest include Afro-punk, queercore, Chicanx/Latinx punk, art-punk, straight edge, hardcore, avant-garde, and experimental punk.
In support of our collecting priorities and our values for ethical community engagement, we adhere to the following guidelines, which were inspired by the Zine Librarians Code of Ethics
Formats that are particularly important to further our collecting goals are:
Our named collections are archives created or collected by an individual or group. Smaller donations may be added to our Punk zines and ephemera collection, with donor information attached to individual items.
To see our current holdings or to fill out a donation form, visit our Punk Music and Culture in the UCLA Library Research Guide.
The UCLA Library Special Collections acquires archival collections and primary source materials that reflect Los Angeles’s unique cultural identity. Our current priorities for collecting primary source materials and archives of creative individuals are centered on visual arts, landscape architecture and land art, photography, and artists’ books.
The UCLA Center for Oral History Research (COHR) conducts in-depth, multi-session oral history interviews with individuals who have participated in the history of the Los Angeles metropolitan area and its many communities. COHR has particularly strong collections in the history of social movements, communities of color, the arts, Los Angeles politics and government, and the history of UCLA. For a complete list of the oral histories in COHR’s collection and access to a number of the transcripts and recordings, visit UCLA Center for Oral History Research.
For more information, please contact:
Most of the oral histories in COHR’s collection are conducted by COHR staff or by interviewers hired to do specific individual projects. COHR does, however, accept donated oral histories if they meet the following criteria:
In order to ensure that their oral histories meet these requirements, prospective donors are strongly encouraged to contact COHR Project Manager Jane Collings before beginning a project. Donors should also consider attending one of COHR’s introductory oral history workshops in order to familiarize themselves with oral history methodology and gain the necessary interviewing skills.
For a complete list of the oral histories in COHR’s collection and access to a number of the transcripts and recordings, visit UCLA Center for Oral History Research.