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Teaching, Learning & Research with Archives & Special Collections: Home

Information on how to use Archives & Special Collections holdings for teaching, learning and research.


Western Libraries Archives & Special Collections is comprised of three units that collect and manage valuable and distinctive documentation of Western Washington University, the local community, and the Pacific Northwest region. The Center for Pacific Northwest Studies seeks to enhance public and scholarly understanding of the region's past and present through its archival and manuscript collections documenting economic, social, cultural and political trends significant to the Pacific Northwest. Special Collections holds a collection of rare books dating back to the European Middle Ages and beyond, materials on the outdoor heritage of the Pacific Northwest (including fly fishing and mountaineering), a large collection of children's literature, and the Campus History Collection. University Archives and Records Management preserves the institutional records of the university, dating from the first Board of Trustees meeting on July 12, 1895.

Archives & Special Collections Instruction Program

Archives & Special Collections wants to ensure that every student who graduates from Western is able to find, understand and interpret a wide variety of research sources in various contexts throughout their lives. This is a life-long learning skill and a critical component of both information and academic literacy. The rare, original and archival sources collected by our programs are valuable teaching and learning tools that can enhance, enrich and enliven research in nearly every subject. To encourage and provide opportunities for students to discover and use our unique collections, we have developed a curriculum that provides engaging methods for accessing, researching and interpreting those materials.

Instructional activities may include customized individual and group research consultations, in-class and virtual lectures and presentations, field trips, and hands-on exercises designed to emphasize active learning, group discussion, and reflection. Through these activities students will be able to:

  • Discover the three Archives & Special Collections units and the understand the scope of their collections;

  • Navigate search and access tools to find quality resources that support various research needs;

  • Use critical analysis skills to identify bias and point-of-view, and evaluate the relevance/reliability of information the sources contain;

  • Understand and internalize basic rules for using archives and special collections, and be comfortable communicating with staff to facilitate research requests.

The Archives & Special Collections instruction program is intended to provide a consistent experience for students and faculty of all academic fields; however, it is also flexible and may be tailored to suit specific course needs and/or faculty requests. For a general overview of our programs and collections, please click here to view our introductory video tutorial.

Please contact us at if you'd like to learn more about these services or schedule an instructional session.

Archives & Special Collections

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Archives & Special Collections
Special Collections, 6th Floor Wilson Library, 360-650-3193

University Archives and Records Management, Goltz-Murray Building, 360-650-3124

Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, Goltz-Murray Building, 360-650-7534