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Special Collections and Rare Books

This guide is an introduction to Special Collections at Iowa State University.

SCUA Instruction Services

We teach primary source literacy using active learning methods. We are also available to consult with instructors on creating assignments and projects using primary sources from our collections.


  • Familiarize students with policies and procedures necessary for research in or collections.
  • Introduce students to research in our department.

Search & Discover

  • Teach student effective search strategies.
  • Help students navigate finding aids, archival databases, library catalogs, and digital collections.

Evaluation & Interpretation

  • Using active learning exercise to demonstrate how students can use contextual information to understand primary sources.
  • Through collaborative learning, show students how to ethically use primary sources as evidence for their research.


  • Review assignments and make recommendations on availability of resources in SCUA.
  • Collaborate with instructors on primary source assignments that meet instructor's learning outcomes and actively engage students with primary source research.


Check out these other relevant SCUA guides you can share with your class.

Examples of Primary Source Instruction Services

  • Graduate students in sociology learning about history of department and sources they could use to conduct qualitative research.
  • Students from the Department of History learning how primary sources act as evidence and are open to interpretation.
  • Undergraduate students getting hands-on experience conducting research and evaluating primary sources.

Collection Strengths

  • Agriculture and Rural Life
  • Life Sciences
  • Engineering
  • History of Iowa State University

Instruction Request Form

Contact us

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Special Collections & University Archives
403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University Library
Ames, IA 50011
515 294-6672