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Special Collections

About VIU Library Special Collections

Vancouver Island University Library’s Special Collections provide access to materials that support the educational, research, and scholarly needs of the VIU community, by means of:

  1. Selective and proactive acquisition or stewardship of materials relating to a range of thematic areas, with discerning attention to materials of regional significance, and to underrepresented people or groups.
  2. Facilitating interim stewardship of materials borrowed for purposes of strategic digitization or digital integrations.
  3. Specialized environment, equipment, staff, preservation infrastructure and services.

For more information, see our Guidelines page.

Due to the rare, valuable, and unique nature of this material, Special Collections is non-circulating and held in closed stacks. Research is conducted in the Reading Room, by appointment.

Questions?  Please get in touch.

Collection Access & Use

VIU Library Special Collections are accessible to members of the VIU community, visiting researchers, and members of the general public. Access to some material may be limited due to factors such as fragile physical condition, state of processing, privacy concerns, or cultural considerations. 

VIU Library’s Pledge reflects a commitment to the safety, dignity and respectful treatment of Library users, including centering care and promoting awareness for library user communities with respect to potentially harmful materials in our collections. VIU Library Special Collections contain materials that reflect the socio-cultural norms and prejudices of their times, and Library users may encounter discriminatory, offensive and hateful representations of humanity when interacting with these materials. Similarly, Library users may encounter harmful or problematic terminology within the catalogue records and other metadata describing this material. As part of the Library’s ongoing critical and iterative work to support scholarly inquiry while mitigating potential harm, we welcome feedback about Special Collections content and metadata.

Research Appointments & Class Visits

  1. Researchers wishing to access Special Collections are asked to make an appointment by completing the Instruction and Access Request form or emailing

  2. Class or group visits must be arranged in advance. Instructors are asked to complete the Instruction and Access Request form.

  3. Responsive procedures and protocols for access by Indigenous community members to Indigenous Knowledges held in Special Collections are coordinated with the Librarian & Coordinator, Indigenous Initiatives:

Reading Room Procedures

Special Collections materials may be accessed by appointment. To book an appointment, please complete and submit a Special Collections Instruction & Access Request.

Prior to visiting the Reading Room, we ask all patrons to read through the following procedures to ensure safe and respectful access:   

  1. Research is conducted within the Reading Room, adjacent to the vault. Usage of this room is monitored and vault access is restricted to staff only.
  2. Pencil, paper, and personal electronic devices can be used for note taking. Wireless access is available to all VIU community users. 
  3. No food or drink permitted. 
  4. Please leave coats, bags, and any other belongings not required for note taking at the entrance of the Reading Room, away from the work tables.
  5. Care must be taken when handling all Special Collections material. The existing order of material housed within boxes and folders must be maintained. Materials should not be marked, removed, added to, or damaged in any way.
  6. Researchers and staff may be required to wear gloves (provided) when handling rare or fragile material.
  7. Digital photography may be used (without flash) to make copies for personal use. Some materials may require book cradles or weights to position them in order to prevent damage, while others may be too delicate or fragile for photography. Digital reproduction services are available upon request.
  8. Access and photographic reproduction of Special Collections material is for research and private study only and does not imply copyright permission for publication, distribution, exhibition, performance, and commercial use.
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