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Archives & Special Collections: FAQ

Learn about the Archives' collections and how to use them.

Frequently Asked Questions (and answers!)

The Archives and Special Collections department cares for unique and historically significant materials. We are happy to answer your questions about our collections, the history of YSU, or other research inquiries. Feel free to contact us by phone (330-941-3487), email, or stop by the 5th floor of Maag Library! 

Where to find the Archives

The Archives and Special Collections is located on the 5th floor of Maag Library

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Tel: 330-941-3487

Hours: by appointment only

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Digital Archive

Where is the Archives and Special Collections?

     We are in Maag Library on the 5th floor and online at

When is the Archives open?

     The Archives is open from 1pm to 4pm Monday through Friday and other times by appointment. 

How do I find books in Special Collections?

     There are over 7,000 titles in Special Collections. Every book in Special Collections is cataloged in MaagNet. It's location will be listed as "Archives and Special Collections." When you come to Archives and Special Collections, a staff member will ask you for the call number of the book. They will locate it and bring it to you to use in the secure Reading Room. These books cannot be checked out. 

What is the oldest book in Special Collections?

     We have over 7,000 different books in Special Collections. Our oldest book was printed in 1570. It is a history of Venice called "Della historia vinitiana" by Pietro Bembo. Stop by to see it! 

How big is the Archives?

     We have thousands of boxes of archival materials. Most of our collections are from University departments and organizations. In total, we have about 200 archival collections. 

What are the most frequently used materials?

     We have put most of our popular resources online at Digital.Maag. We often use the scanned (and searchable) collection of the student newspaper, the Jambar. Other frequently used materials are the historic photographs, course catalogs, yearbooks, and Board of Trustees' Minutes. 

When did YSU start? 

     YSU traces is beginning to 1908 when the Youngstown YMCA offered a college-level night class in commercial law. In 1921 the courses expanded and the program was called the Youngstown Institute of Technology. Liberal arts classes were added in 1931 and it became Youngstown College. In 1955, the name changed to Youngstown University. Finally, the school joined the Ohio public university system and became Youngstown State University in 1967. 

When did the Archives begin?

     Maag Library has had a Special Collections room since it opened in 1976. The University Archives was formed in 2007. 

Who can use the Archives and Special Collections?

     The Archives is open to YSU students, faculty, and staff as well as the general public in support of the research and educational aims of the University. 

Can I copy materials from the Archives?

     There are no self-service photocopy machines in this department due to the fragile nature of the materials. The staff will evaluate the materials requested to be photocopied. If they can be copied without damage, the staff will do the copy/scanning as time permits. Large orders may take several days to complete. Researchers may use their own hand-held cameras to make “fair use” study copies of materials in good condition. The use of bright lights, copy stands, or other equipment deemed harmful to the materials is not permitted. 



What makes it archival?

Archival material is made of inactive records that have been evaluated and kept because they have historical or research value. They are usually unique, paper records, and are therefore different than published books you find on a library shelf. Due to their uniqueness and research value, they must be kept in a secure area and be handled carefully. 

Finding Aids

A finding aid is a document that describes an archival collection. It gives information about the creator of the collection, its scope, and the kinds of documents that are included in it. It will also have a list of the files in each box of the collection. Archivists make an effort to keep collections in the same order in which they were created and/or used, so each collection has a unique arrangement. 

Each collection in the Archives has a finding aid or a preliminary inventory. Most of them are available online.