Frequently Asked Questions

When can I visit the Archives and where is it located?

Visits to the NSF NCAR Archives are by appointment only. If you would like to come to the Archives, please contact us to schedule an appointment.

The Archives are located at the Mesa Lab in Boulder, CO.

Is everything online?

No. The NSF NCAR Archives is continually digitizing documents, photographs, and films but not everything is available online.

To access digital collections, please visit OpenSky, the NSF NCAR Library's digital repository. To see inventories of materials that are not yet available online, please visit the Archives search page.

How can I find out what collections are in the Archives?

The collections housed in the Archives can be searched in our database. Please note that the database lists all collection materials, including physical collections that are only available on-site. Some of these materials are also available online in OpenSky, the NSF NCAR Library's digital repository.

Is the Archives open to the public?

Yes. The Archives is open by appointment Monday through Thursday, from 10:00-4:00. If you would like to visit the Archives, please contact us at least 24 hours in advance to schedule an appointment. This is necessary to ensure staff and materials are available.

How can I donate materials to the Archives?

If you have materials that you are interested in donating or transferring to the NCAR/UCAR Archives, please contact us to discuss your potential donation. Please review our collecting policy for information about what types of materials the Archives accepts.

May I borrow the documents or records I need?

No. Due to the unique nature of archives, the materials are non-circulating and may only be used in the Archives. Additionally, researchers are expected to abide by the rules of use for archival materials when using the collections.

Is it possible to get materials photocopied or scanned?

Yes. Upon request, many materials from collections may be reproduced by Archives staff for personal use by researchers. In certain cases, there may be fees associated with reproduction requests. The Archives reserves the right to refuse reproduction requests that are too large or are outside the capacity of staff to complete. Fees are waived for UCAR staff. Permission to reproduce does not constitute authorization to publish. Please contact us for more information.

May I publish materials I found in the Archives?

The Archives is not the copyright holder to all collections. The Archives can grant permission to publish materials for which it holds the copyright, and these include:

  • Printed materials published by NSF NCAR and UCAR
  • Records created on behalf of NSF NCAR and UCAR
  • Materials in manuscript collections for which the donor has given copyright to NSF NCAR and UCAR

We are unable to conduct copyright searches and cannot advise researchers on the application of copyright law. The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) does not allow us to grant permission to publish materials we do not clearly own. For those materials, it is the researcher's responsibility to determine the ownership of copyright and secure permission to publish. For permission to publish, please contact us.

Where can I find photographs related to NCAR/UCAR?

In OpenSky, the NSF NCAR Library's digital repository. If you need help searching for photos, or can't find what you are looking for, contact us.

How can I access the oral history collections?

Via the oral history page or search the collections in OpenSky.

How do I cite materials from the Archives?

Guidelines for citing material are as follows:

NSF NCAR and UCAR Material

Identification of the item cited, Title of collection, Archives, NSF National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Example: Correspondence, Gordon A. Newkirk, Jr. Papers, Archives, NSF National Center for Atmospheric Research.

(The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the records are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.)

American Meteorological Society Oral History Project

Identification of interviewee, Date, American Meteorological Society Oral History Project, Archives, National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Example: Battan, Louis. 10/8/86, American Meteorological Society Oral History Project, Archives, National Center for Atmospheric Research.

(The American Meteorological Society is a non-profit organization. The opinions, findings, conclusions, statements and other information contained in the oral history interview or any abstract thereof reflect the opinions of the narrator and the interviewer of the tape only, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the American Meteorological Society.)

Help! I have files that I need out of my office/I have files that I need to clear out of my drive. What do I do?

Please review the Archives collecting policy to determine if any of your records might be of historic value, and review the UCAR Operations retention schedule to determine if the records are covered by that retention schedule. If you think you have materials that could be of historic significance, contact us. We are happy to help evaluate the records and transfer relevant material to the Archives! Convenience records (or copies of official records) do not need to be kept by offices and divisions. Certain records, such as reference materials, books, journals, back up copies of PR’s, invoices, personnel profile changes, performance appraisals, business calendars, office supplies, and financial reports are not accepted by the Archives. As of 2010, the the Archives no longer sends boxes to storage at Iron Mountain.

Who can help me figure out what documents and records I can get rid of and which ones I need to keep?

We welcome inquiries to determine if materials are of archival value, please ask! Questions about the retention of business and financial records should be directed to Finance and Administration.

What is the difference between Archives and Records Management?

Archival Records

Please view the Archives collecting policy for information on what types of materials the Archives does and does not collect. We are happy to help you determine if something belongs in the Archives.

There is a difference between sending your records to the Archives and sending records to off-site storage. The Archives are the repository for permanent NCAR/UCAR records that are determined by the archivist to have enduring, or historic, value in accordance with the Archives collecting policy. Off-site storage at Iron Mountain is for the temporary storage of records destined for destruction, or for permanent records that may have permanent business value, but do not have enduring value in the archival sense.

Another important difference is responsibility. Records held in Iron Mountain are the responsibility of the office that created them and are owned by that office. They may be retrieved by the creating office at any time. Records transferred to the Archives become the property and responsibility of the Archives. The archivist determines what will be kept and what will be deaccessioned from the collection. Archives records may not be removed, but creating offices are always welcome to visit the Archives to view records.

The Archives no longer provides boxes for records storage or sends boxes to Iron Mountain for staff.

Records Management

International Standard ISO 15489, Information and Documentation, defines records management as “the field of management responsible for the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposition of records, including processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about business activities and transactions in the form of records.” Records management aids an organization in meeting current operational business needs and accountability requirements, and providing historical evidence of its transactions.

  • Business Record—Business records are records created or received by UCAR/NCAR/UCP employees/collaborators while conducting business and are categorized as either official records or convenience records.
  • Official Records—Official records are records that document and record business activities and have value either to provide evidence of that activity or for reference. Official records may exist in any media format including paper, electronic, audio/video, and micrographics.
  • Convenience Records—All other records are considered convenience records and should be discarded as soon as practical after it is determined they no longer have any reference value. The retention and disposal of convenience records should generally follow the FandA Records Schedule. Examples of convenience record include:
    • Copies of official records
    • Reference materials having no ongoing value
    • Catalogs and trade journals
    • Casual correspondence including records created to facilitate meetings, created for internal communication, etc. (many e-mail messages fall under this category)
    • Working papers or preliminary drafts with no further informational value once action has been completed
    • Documents that belong to individuals and are not relevant to the company
    • Back up copies of PR’s, invoices, personnel profile changes, performance appraisals, journal entries, and financial reports.

What is an Archive?

The Society of American Archivists defines an archive as:

  • Materials created or received by a person, family, or organization, public or private, in the conduct of their affairs and preserved because of the enduring value contained in the information they contain or as evidence of the functions and responsibilities of their creator, especially those materials maintained using the principles of provenance, original order, and collective control; permanent records.
  • The division within an organization responsible for maintaining the organization's records of enduring value.
  • An organization that collects the records of individuals, families, or other organizations; a collecting archives.
  • The professional discipline of administering such collections and organizations.
  • The building (or portion thereof) housing archival collections.

What is an archivist?

According to the Society of American Archivists:

The primary task of the archivist is to establish and maintain control, both physical and intellectual, over records of enduring value. Archivists select records, a process that requires an understanding of the historical context in which the records were created, the uses for which they were intended, and their relationships to other sources. The archivist then arranges and describes the records, in accordance with accepted standards and practices; ensures the long-term preservation of collections; assists researchers; and plans and directs exhibitions, publications, and other outreach programs to broaden the use of collections and to enlist support for archival programs.

The work of the archivist is related to, but distinct from, that of certain other professionals. The librarian and the archivist, for example, both collect, preserve, and make accessible materials for research; but significant differences exist in the way these materials are arranged, described, and used. The records manager and the archivist are also closely allied; however, the records manager controls vast quantities of institutional records, most of which will eventually be destroyed, while the archivist is concerned with relatively small quantities of records deemed important enough to be retained for an extended period. The museum curator and the archivist are associated; however, the museum curator collects, studies, and interprets mostly three-dimensional objects, while the archivist works with paper, film, and electronic records. Finally, the archivist and the historian have had a longstanding relationship; the archivist identifies, preserves, and makes the records accessible for use, while the historian uses archival records for research.