Using Archives

What is an Archives?

Archives are collections of historical documents or records providing information about a place, institution, or group of people.

Archives generally also go a step further than just housing historic materials and seek to provide the public with access to those materials. The La Crosse Public Library Archives and the UWL Murphy Library Special Collections and Area Research Center actively provide the public with access to historical materials related to the city of La Crosse, La Crosse County, as well as the counties surrounding La Crosse.

In addition, archives can serve different purposes and be called different names, for example:

  • special collections
  • rare books department
  • history center
  • history room
  • museum

In general, these types of institutions can be accessed in a similar manner to an archives, but it's always important to check an institution's website for guidance before planning a visit.

Visiting Archives

Archival repositories each have their own set of rules to keep in mind before you visit! Always be sure to check with the specific archives you are planning to visit ahead of time for any specific rules, regulations, or restrictions.

General archives visitation rules:

  • only bring a pencil to write with
  • sometimes bags are not allowed with you into the archives reading room
  • you will need to sign in upon entering the archives room, sometimes you might even be asked to sign a form or waiver
  • ask before taking photographs
  • there is often a fee for copies of materials and printing
  • not all materials may be copied due to copyright or donor restrictions

While planning your visit, be sure to read more about the Guidelines for Researchers at the La Crosse Public Library Archives.

The UWL Murphy Library Special Collections and ARC details information for visitors on their About page.