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The University of Waterloo Library's Special Collections Department is housed in the Doris Lewis Rare Book Room in the Dana Porter Library. Named in honour of Doris Eileen Lewis, the first Chief Librarian of the University of Waterloo, the Doris Lewis Rare Book Room opened in 1976.
Special Collections holds early editions and rare books, collections of archives and manuscripts, and other material that requires special care and handling because of its early publication date, association interest, physical condition, aesthetic value, or unusual format.
Now numbering over 50,000 volumes, the rare book collections have particular subject strengths in the following areas: women's studies, local history, the history of mathematics (especially Euclid's Elements of Geometry), architecture, dance and ballet, fine printing, and urban planning.
Historical and literary archives are maintained in a variety of subject areas which, for the most part, complement the book collections. The collections are considered working collections which have been developed systematically around subjects that reflect the goals of the University of Waterloo's major teaching and research programmes.
The University of Waterloo Archives is also part of Special Collections. The University Archives houses official records of the University of Waterloo. Included are correspondence, reports, minutes, publications, architectural and building plans, photographs, ephemera, and memorabilia.
Special Collections resources are available for use by University of Waterloo students, faculty, and staff and by visiting scholars and the general public.