Rare and Distinctive Collections (RaD) collects unique materials in the following areas: Archives, Government Information, Map Collection, and Rare Books.  The collecting foci of each area and a list of material types we accept are described below.

If you would like to donate materials to RaD’s collections, please email us at rad@colorado.edu with a detailed description of the materials and their subject matter.  We will respond to your inquiry within 1-3 business days.  All donation inquiries will be reviewed and assessed consistent with current Libraries' collection development policies. We reserve the right to decline all acquisition offers that do not meet our active collecting areas and policies.

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We review new potential donations the Archives three times per year, in January, May, and September.  All new donations must go through this review process and meet the criteria outlined below.

Within all collecting areas, we aspire to decolonize our collections by prioritizing the acquisition of materials that document communities, events, and individuals who have been traditionally under-represented in the historical record; reflect anti-racist and decolonial perspectives; and challenge oppressive systems and structures.

The Archives actively collects in the following subject areas:

  • American Music Research Center (AMRC) collections
  • Atomic West
  • Experimental film and video
  • History of natural science and the environment
    We currently prioritize materials in this area that document climate change or climate change research.
  • Innovations in Jewish Life (IJL) collections, in partnership with the CU Boulder’s Program in Jewish Studies
  • Rocky Mountain counterculture and social change
  • University of Colorado Boulder history and records  
    As the unofficial archives for CU Boulder, the Archives currently prioritizes collecting university-related materials that document women, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA+ faculty papers and student organizations. Due to storage considerations, we are not able to collect the papers of all CU Boulder departments, organizations, faculty members, or alumni.  If you are a faculty member interested in donating your papers to the Archives, please contact rad@colorado.edu for our policies regarding faculty paper donations.

The Archives does not currently collect in the following subject areas: 

  • Additions to legacy collections that currently fall outside of our active collecting areas
  • Colorado politics and politicians
  • Human rights
  • Materials documenting the history of Boulder County that fall outside of our active collecting areas
  • National and Rocky Mountain West labor and labor rights collections
  • United States military history not connected to the University of Colorado Boulder
  • Western Americana
  • Women’s organizations (except for additions to existing collections)

Government Information

As the regional depository for the state of Colorado, we actively collect only federal documents that are not part of the existing collection. We also collect limited state and foreign documents, as described below.

For state documents, we collect items that are relevant to our researchers’ needs, especially in the following subject areas:

  • Aerospace and other space sciences
  • Colorado
  • Energy or geology, including mining, nuclear energy, oil, and gas, especially in the American West
  • Native American history and related sources from Colorado and the American West
  • Western states water issues

For foreign documents, we collect in the following subject areas:

  • British documents relating to CU Boulder’s Center for British and Irish Studies
  • Canada
    Only scientific literature in this subject area
  • Foreign trade, commerce, and policy

Map Collection

The purpose of the Map Collection is to provide well-rounded, world-wide coverage consisting of general and thematic maps and atlases, at small and large scales, and related reference materials such as gazetteers. A focus for collecting is Boulder, Colorado, and the American West, as well as pictorial and persuasive maps and mapping from under-represented cartographers and publishers. The collection is widely used for interdisciplinary teaching and research, particularly in Geography, Geology, Environmental Design, History, Education, Art and Art History, English, Writing, Environmental Studies, Political Science and Humanities in Engineering.

The Map Collection actively collects maps, atlases, and related reference materials on the following subject areas:

  • The American West
  • The city of Boulder and the state of Colorado
  • Colonialism
  • Disease
  • Geology
  • History of science
  • Indigenous populations
  • Resource impacts/Mining

Rare Books

Rare Books prioritizes the acquisition of rare materials that will support curricular use and faculty/student-curated exhibits. This usually takes the form of printed works, but certain rare or unique historical manuscripts, photographic materials, or artist pieces may be accepted. The collecting focus of Rare Books evolves in response to the research and curricular needs in the arts and sciences.

The Rare Books collection actively works to diversify its holdings through its emphasis on acquiring materials created outside of Europe and the United States. In particular, this includes published works and photography that support campus instruction in areas such as East and Southeast Asia, Latin America, and more. For European and American materials, the collection is particularly interested in acquiring items authored by historically underrepresented groups, such as women, Indigenous and Black communities, immigrants, etc. 

Rare Books actively collects in the following areas:

  • Artists’ books
  • Historical Children’s and Young Adult Materials
  • History of science
  • History of Manuscript and Print Technologies
    We are especially interested in acquiring early manuscript and printed material from outside of Europe.
  • Photobooks and photographic history
    We actively seek new titles for the photobook collection, focusing on innovative, groundbreaking photographers; works that present current cultural/societal issues and viewpoints; works from underrepresented communities/individuals and topics, and works that present new styles and photomechanical methods in the craft and art of photography.
  • Travel and exploration, with a special emphasis on mountaineering  
  • Women Poets of the Romantic Period, 1770-1830
    We aim to collect first and second editions of poetic works not held elsewhere and not yet available via open-source websites.

Rare Books does not actively collect in the following subject area:

  • Realia  
    Rare Books does not actively acquire realia, unless a gift would benefit visiting classes or has an historical value.

Last updated June 2023