The University Archives is the designated repository for all records, documents, publications and other materials pertaining to the operation of the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), its colleges and schools and all other agencies formally related to it. (University Administrative Manual Section 4012 on p. 245-246) The archives also holds selected records of the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE). Located in Room 310 of the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center with the Special Collections Department, the University Archives was established in 1964 and houses records of the University and related materials selected for their enduring historical value. From its earliest days in the 1880s, in a lone building on "the hill" north of Reno, to the present as part of the statewide Nevada System of Higher Education, much of the administrative history and development of the University of Nevada, Reno is documented through the records that are held in the Archives. The variety of material from its schools, colleges, academic departments, administrative offices, faculty, staff and student organizations help trace the intellectual, cultural and social environments that have shaped the university throughout its history. In cooperation with offices and individuals across campus, records are selected, transferred to the archives, and made available for research in an ongoing process by the archives staff. These resources support university administration and governance, outreach activities, and many of its teaching and research programs, and are available to all members of the university community, as well as to researchers outside the university.
The Archives considers archival or historical records to be those materials generated by University offices — in published and unpublished form — which are inactive and substantive in content. Records are considered inactive when they are referred to infrequently and no longer have administrative value for the office which generated them. Substantive records contain information which document important activities of the creating office: the development of programs, changes in structure and function, etc. To complement the official records of the University, certain types of personal papers, records of non-university organizations, and general historical materials that document various aspects of the University community will also be considered for inclusion in the Archives. Archival records may be paper-based, on audio-visual media, or digital in origin; their historical research value is appraised strictly on content.
The primary function of the University Archives is to locate, appraise, select, preserve and provide access to the records of the University and related materials of enduring historical research value. After records are received in the Archives, they will be processed following professional archival standards and procedures. Every effort is made during processing to maintain the integrity of the records as a group, while at the same time making them accessible to researchers and preserving them from long and short term deterioration. The Archives provides environmentally stable and secure storage and reference areas and monitors reference use of materials. Records transferred to the Archives will always be available to the depositing office.
A number of print and online access tools exist to assist researchers in locating materials in the University Archives. Resources range from general collection descriptions in the University's online catalog to detailed inventories, databases, indexes, and other specialized descriptive material. The University Archivist and other professional staff are always available to assist researchers.