About the Multimedia Archives
The Multimedia Division of Special Collections and Archives contains the non-textual archives of the Special Collections and is divided into two areas: Audio-Visual and Photographs. The Multimedia Archives provides access to our unique collections while preserving the originals. For more information about using multimedia collections, please review the information below:
The Multimedia Archives contain over 1,300 audio-visual collections which span a variety of formats, the majority of which are obsolete. Because most of these materials are old, rare, and difficult to play back, users must work with digital copies rather than with the original recordings. The Multimedia Archive is dedicated to preserving its collections and making them accessible to the public. An ever-growing pool of digitized materials is available for access online and in the Special Collections Reading Room.
There are several tools to aid your search in the audio-visual collections. You may search our finding aids on Archives West or consult our spreadsheet of materials that are available in the Reading Room. We also have subject guides available for audio-visual materials. A selection of our material can be viewed on the Digital Library and on YouTube.
Digital access copies have not been created for every item listed in these guides. Archival recordings are prioritized for digital preservation and access based on a variety of factors, including content, format condition and stability, and user requests. Requests for access to undigitized materials help the Multimedia Archivists better understand the needs of our users and are strongly encouraged, but digitization cannot be guaranteed. To suggest an item for digitization, please contact us. To learn more about reproduction and usage of audio-visual material, please consult the copyright and reproduction policies below.
The Multimedia Archives houses over 2,000 separate photograph collections, which together contain approximately 3 million photographs. The collections represent all historic formats such as daguerreotypes, tintypes, cartes-de-viste, ambrotypes, albumen prints, panoramas, and cyanotypes, as well as more modern color and black and white prints, transparencies, slides, and negatives. The Multimedia Archive also contains born-digital and digitized images.
Each fully processed photograph collection has a finding aid available to browse or search on Archives West. Unlike audio-visual material, it is safe to view most photograph materials in person with proper handling. To make an appointment to view photograph collections in the reading room, please visit the main Special Collections page. Visitors to the reading room may use non-flash photography and no-contact scanners to take reproductions of photographs for personal or research use as outlined in our Photography Policy.
Multimedia archivists are committed to providing distance access when possible; however, due to high demand and staffing limitation, photograph reproduction requests are limited to 50 scans per project and are placed in a queue in the order in which they are received. Researchers who are unable to visit us in person should also contact us with research requests. To learn more about reproduction and usage of audio-visual material, please consult the usage and reproduction policies below.
A selection of photograph collections have been fully or partially digitized and made freely available on the Digital Library. To learn about collection strengths in the Multimedia Archive, visit the J. Willard Marriott Library Digital Exhibits hub, or browse the legacy exhibits from the photograph collections.
The Multimedia Division of the J. Wilalrd Marriott Library Special Collections is dedicated to preserving and making available unique media documenting the history of the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, and the state of Utah.
Audio-visual material and photographs are of special concern to archivists not only because they present a dynamic glimpse into history and culture but also because they are in danger of being lost forever due to format obsolescence and deterioration.
Donations of audio-visual, photograph, and born-digital materials are encouraged. The University of Utah conducts physical preservation measures and provides climate-controlled and disaster-safe storage for donated material. We have begun the systematic digitization of audio-visual collections for preservation, and have digitized many photograph collections that are of high research interest to our communities.
However, because the digital preservation process is extremely resource intensive, materials are prioritized for digitization based on a variety of factors, including content, copyright, format condition and stability, and user requests. Although it is the archive's goal to digitize and make available all of its multimedia holdings, digitization of deposited materials cannot be guaranteed within any specific time-frame, and scan-and-return donations are not possible at this time.
If you require immediate access to your multimedia content, it is recommended that you pursue digitization before donating your collection. The Association of Moving Image Archivists maintains an international directory of digitization service suppliers. Even if your materials have already been digitized, please consider donating the original items to Special Collections, where they will be preserved and made accessible to future generations as valuable components of our region's historical record.
For a donation consultation or for information about donating born-digital or digitized items, please review our Deed of Gift and contact the Head of Multimedia by email or phone.
Special Collections is the final repository for media and other historic materials produced by The University of Utah. However, materials should not come to the Multimedia Division of Special Collections until they are no longer being used by the department that created them.
Multimedia items still in use can be transferred to the Records Center in the University Archives and Records Management Department of Special Collections, where they can continue to be accessed at the convenience of the department. Any digitization performed while materials are in the Records Center is the responsibility of the department. When they are no longer in use, multimedia materials may be transferred from the Records Center to the audio-visual or photograph division of the Multimedia Archives, where they will be preserved and ultimately made accessible for future scholars of University of Utah history.
Because the digital preservation process is extremely resource intensive, materials are prioritized for digitization based on a variety of factors, including content, copyright, format condition and stability, and user requests. Although it is the archive's goal to digitize and make available all of its multimedia holdings, digitization of deposited materials cannot be guaranteed within any specific time-frame, and scan-and-return donations are not possible at this time.
The Multimedia Archives can provide digital reproductions for private use and research purposes. To request reproductions, please fill out and submit a Reproduction Request using the contact form on the main Special Collections website. For reproduction requests of 10 or under, fees are waived. After 10 reproductions, there is a cost of $0.25 for each audio-visual or photograph file. Reproductions of photographs are currently limited to 50 scans per project due to high demand. Due to limited staff availability, all reproduction requests are placed in a queue based on the order they are received. To inquire about the length of the queue and the time it will take for reproductions to be completed, please contact us.
If you plan to distribute or publish requested material in any way, you must also fill out a Use Agreement. Commercial use fees are $25 for the first item and $5 for each additional item. Fees are waived for nonprofit entities and University affiliates. Use Agreements must be filled out per project; if you have requested and received reproductions in the past and would like to use, publish, or distribute the items in a new project, you must contact us about filling out a new agreement.
Special Collections does not claim to control copyright for all materials in the collection. It is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission from the copyright holders of archival material. If you have questions about reproduction, usage, or copyright, please contact us.
Molly Rose Steed
Head of Multimedia Archives
Senior Photograph Archivist
Claire A. Kempa
Doris Duke Special Collection Archivist
The Special Collections Reading Room is open by appointment only:
Monday - Thursday
10 am - 4 pm
For more information, please visit Special Collections