Old Dominion University Libraries

Special Collections & University Archives

Events & Exhibits

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Monday - Friday:
9 am - 4:30 pm

Other times by appointment


The Special Collections is located on the east side of the Library at the front of the 3rd floor.

Contact Information

Patricia W. & J. Douglas Perry Library
Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0256
telephone (757) 683-5350
fax (757) 683-5954


Frequently Asked Questions

Reading Room Guidelines / Publishing Policy / Preferred Citation / Photocopy Policy / Copyright

Where is Special Collections?

The Special Collections Reading Room is located on the 3rd floor of Perry Library in Room 3023, in the front (east side) of the library

  • Directions
  • Parking
  • Contact us at:

    Old Dominion University
    J. Douglas and Patricia W. Perry Library
    Special Collections and University Archives
    Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0256
    Tel. (757) 683-5350 Fax: (757) 683-5954
    Email: libspecialcollections [at] odu.edu

When is the Special Collections Reading Room open?

  • Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 9 am - 4:30 pm
  • Wednesday: 10 am - 4:30 pm and 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
  • We are open by appointment at other times.

How do I learn what collections are in Special Collections and University Archives?

What collections are open to students? 

All of our collections, with a few exceptions, are available to students and other researchers. Patrons wishing to use any material in the papers of former university presidents must have the written permission of Office of the President.  Some collections may have confidential material that is closed to researchers. Contact the Special Collections Librarian for more information.

How are Special Collections and University Archives organized?

In addition to books, Special Collections and University Archives contain manuscript collections, material donated by one person or group. Papers within each collection are organized into subjects or series and then arranged chronologically or alphabetically. Finding aids, available on our website or in the Special Collections Reading Room, explain how each collection is organized.

What should I write my paper on? What’s a good topic?

Your professor can provide you with guidelines. Perry Library’s Idea Generator may give you some ideas: http://www.lib.odu.edu/researchassistance/ideagenerator/index.htm

What is a primary source?

A primary source is a document or physical object that was written or created during the time under study. Oral histories and autobiographies of people that were present during an experience or time period are also considered primary sources.  Some types of primary sources include:       

  • Original documents (excerpts, translations, photocopies acceptable): Diaries, speeches, manuscripts, letters, interviews, news film footage, autobiographies, scientific data, official records
  • Creative works: Poetry, drama, novels, music, art
  • Relics Or artifacts: Pottery, furniture, clothing, buildings

What is a secondary source?

A secondary source interprets, analyzes and/or summarizes primary sources. These sources are one or more steps removed from the event. Secondary sources may have pictures, quotes or graphics of primary sources in them. Secondary sources include publications such as magazine articles, histories, criticisms, commentaries and encyclopedias.

How do I cite archival material?

The format for citation is as follows:

  • [Identification of item], Box [insert number], Folder [insert number and title], [Collection name], Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529.

Reading Room Guidelines

In order to preserve the material collected in Special Collections researchers are asked to observe the following rules:

  • All visitors must complete a registration form and present a photo ID.
  • No food, drink, or smoking is allowed in the reading room.
  • Use care when handling material - PENCILS ONLY - no pens or markers may be used when taking notes.
  • All material in Special Collections must be used in the Reading Room. None of our material circulates.

Can I use my computer in the Special Collections Reading Room?

You can use electronic or paper notebooks. WIFI is available in the Reading Room if you have a University (Midas) sign on. Computer carrying bags, purses, backpacks must be left at the front of the Reading Room.

Publishing Policy

No material from Special Collections may be published or reproduced without written permission from the University Librarian. Contact the Special Collections Librarian for more information.

Scanning and Photocopy Policy

  • Not all materials can be photocopied or scanned.  Copying will be done as determined by the condition of the material.
  • Photocopying and scanning can usually be done within 24 hours.  However, larger orders may take longer.
  • Limit of 100 pages per project.
  • Photocopying and scanning charge: 10 cents per page. The first 10 pages are free.


Warning Concerning Copyright Restrictions:

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material.

Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship or research."  If a user makes a request for or later uses a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," that user may be liable for copyright infringement.

This Institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of that order would involve violation of copyright law

Revised: 2/12/2013