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Archives and Special Collections

Conducting Research FAQ's

How do I get there?

Archives & Special Collections are located in the Ryerson University Library Building (LIB) on the north side of Gould Street, just east of Yonge Street, between O'Keefe Lane and Victoria Street. Enter the Library on the 2nd floor of the building.  

We are located on the 4th floor of LIB. There are two sets of elevators or stairs required to access the LIB building (2nd floor) and Archives & Special Collections (4th floor).

LIB has accessible washrooms on floors 4, 6, 7, 8 and 10. Please see the Accessible Building Information website for more information.

A group of students outside of the Archives & Special Collections reading room


How do I make an appointment?

Email to make an appointment and include the items you are interested in accessing. Please try to be as specific as possible about what you’re looking for so we can help you make the best use of your visit.

Our appointment times are currently limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit our website for the latest information on how to make an appointment.

What do I need to bring?

Please bring with you pencils (we request you refrain from using pens), a notebook or electronic device for note taking. 

You may also bring a cell phone or camera to take photographs, or can use our scanner. Please bring a usb key or hard drive if you are wishing to scan items.

We are happy to provide you with pencils, scrap paper and can show you how to use our scanner for reproductions.

Can I use images from the collection?

Researchers can request reproductions of images found in our collections. If your request meets our guidelines (Ryerson, FIPPA, Copyright) we will provide you with watermarked digital reproductions. You can also request high quality digital images of collections objects and we are happy to make these available for uses that fall under Ryerson University’s Fair Dealing guidelines. 

The collection object images must be accompanied by a credit line citing the Ryerson University Library in any case where material is reproduced. You may be required to sign an Image Use Form that clearly outlines the permitted uses of the requested images. Please note that unauthorized reproduction of images (including those contained on the Ryerson University Archives & Special Collections web site), is prohibited.

Can I borrow books or objects? 

We care for objects, photographs, rare books and some amazing cultural resources so we don’t let anything out of our sight. Although our collections do not circulate, you are welcome to consult books and objects in our reading room and use our scanner or a camera to take pictures. Photocopying is permitted of some materials. Photocopy cards are available for purchase on the main floor of the library. 


A group of students in the Archives & Special Collections reading room

Accessing the Collections FAQ's

What is an archive?

An archive is an institution that acquires, preserves, and makes available records of enduring value associated with their specific mandate. Unlike the library, the records collected by the Archives are often unique and unpublished. A record can be anything that provides information; this includes photographs, text documents, films, posters, textiles, maps, blueprints, and even some artifacts. 

What are special collections?

Special Collections in a library contain library material that does not circulate with the general collection due to it's uniqueness, fragility, format, specialty storage needs, condition, or importance. While this does include rare or specialized books, Special Collections also contain photographs, a variety of objects, film, audio, digital files, and archival material. These collections focus on primary source research value.

How can you help me with my research?

A&SC staff are here to facilitate research and access to collections for the broader Ryerson community.  Appointments to view items in the Archives & Special Collections reading room can be made via telephone or email. When making an appointment, please include the reference number of the item, or collection or call number of the books you would like to consult.  

What if I need more help?

Please feel free to make an appointment for more in-depth research assistance tailored to your specific research interests by emailing with the subject of your research, the collection you would like to access and your preferred time. The A&SC staff will enable you to engage in efficient and productive research by orienting you to the available materials and search tools that are relevant to your research interests.

Is there anything you can’t do?

Unfortunately, we can’t conduct your research for you.  We’re happy to help you locate and access records; navigate our database, catalogue, and paper-based finding aids; digitize material for educational use; access existing digitized material; and refer you to other collections items that are related to your topic. We can’t do things like conduct preliminary searches; research, locate, and digitize the results of subject-based search requests sent in remotely; read through large files in search of items relevant to your research; or clear image reproduction rights with third-party permissions holders.