Archives & Special Collections: Getting Started

A guide to getting started finding, using, and citing materials in Archives & Special Collections

Use It: Getting Started

Congratulations! You have found one or more items or collections you would like to use.

This page will help you navigate accessing physical materials, give you some tips for using digital materials, and provide you with a list of helpful tools for research.

Use It: Accessing Physical Materials

We provide a comfortable, quiet reading room for our patrons. You'll be able to focus on the documents, and we will assist you as needed..

Be sure to:

  • have call numbers, collection titles, or other identifying information about materials you want to use prepared to share with us
  • have made an appointment a week in advance of visiting us
  • bring your laptop, tablet, phone, or other device (and power cord if you'll be onsite for a while), loaded with any research apps that make your life easier

Know that:

  • you'll use the materials in the reading room because they are not available for checkout
  • you can take notes and photographs (no flash, please)
  • you can use devices or paper and pencil (no pens)
  • you'll be asked to keep any non-research materials (coats, wallets, food, etc.) in our locker area
  • you'll be asked to complete our registration paperwork the first time you visit
  • we will retrieve materials for you and assist in any way we can

Use It: Digital Materials

It is always exciting when you find material in Mountain Scholar that helps in your research! In these cases, you will want a way to find these items again. An easy way to do so is to save the URL. Some items also include a handle. A handle link will remainorange arrow points to download and print icons stable, unlike what is in the address bar, which can (and will at some point) change. Reminder! Not all items have handles, so in those cases go ahead and use what is in the address bar.



You can download whatever you find in Mountain Scholar using buttons at the right. You can then freely use these files for personal or educational purposes.

If you will be using materials in a publication or for business purposes, you will want to review our copyright and permissions information on the Cite It page.

Use It: Helpful Tools

Many researchers take photos of materials while onsite and read/analyze them later. If you intend to do this, we recommend planning ahead for how you manage those files, including file naming, organization, and format. The apps below can help.

File Management

File Renaming

You may not want to use the names your camera assigns to images, and you may want to change more than one file name at a time.

Scan / Create PDFs / OCR (make image files keyword searchable)

The apps below allow you to capture images with your phone and convert them into keyword searchable PDF files.

*Always review data collected by apps you download!

  • Dropbox
    • Free download if using Basic plan - includes 2 GB of storage
    • Android/iOS/Windows/Mac compatible
  • CamScanner
    • Free download - will contain in-app ads
    • Android/iOS/Windows/Mac compatible
  • ABBYY FineReader
    • Free download - will contain in-app ads - 7 day free trial for Windows/Mac
    • Android/iOS/Windows/Mac compatible - Mac version not as powerful as Windows version
  • Google Drive
  • Microsoft Office Lens
    • Free with existing Microsoft Office Account (all CSU students should have one, provided by the university)
  • Genius Scan
    • Free download of basic version, $.99/month to get OCR and direct upload to the cloud
    • Android/iOS compatible
  • ScanPro
    • Free download
    • iOS compatible

Contact Us

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Archives and Special Collections
Morgan Library, Suite 202
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1019
(970) 491-1844

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