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ExploreUK ( is the gateway to University of Kentucky Libraries’ rare and unique resources, particularly those housed in the Special Collections Research Center. Materials include manuscript collections, university archives, rare books, photographs, oral history interviews, newspapers, maps, architectural drawings, and more. A majority of collections document the social, cultural, economic, and political history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, but also included are materials of national and international significance. ExploreUK is free and open to the public.

When searching ExploreUK, one will come across the following content types:

Collection guides (also known as “finding aids”): These documents contain detailed information about a specific collection of papers or records and sometimes include an inventory or box list. Collection guides are used to determine whether information within a collection is relevant to one's research interests. In some cases, digital scans of documents may be embedded within a collection guide so that users can access the collection without visiting the Special Collections Research Center.

Digital objects: The Special Collections Research Center digitizes materials of significant research value for online access. These digital scans can be accessed via ExploreUK. Some digitized content is described by collection guides (see above) while others are described by a basic bibliographic record. Digitized materials can be downloaded in either .jpg or .pdf format, but users are responsible for securing appropriate permissions.

Information on how to make online requests for reproductions or viewing materials at the Special Collections Research Center can be found at

For help with research or other questions, contact the Special Collections Research Center at