Cahlan Research Library

What is the Cahlan Research Library?

The Cahlan Research Library is the umbrella term for multiple collections that encompass traditional aspects of special libraries, archives, and manuscript collections. The Cahlan Research Library houses the museum’s reference library, manuscript collections, maps, rare books, and institutional archives.

Broadly speaking, the Cahlan Research Library is a special library because it contains material of specialized interest. While public libraries contain materials on almost every topic imaginable, special libraries have a narrower focus (specialized interest). In the case of the Cahlan Research Library at Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas, our specialized interest is the history of Nevada, with an emphasis on southern Nevada. Although we are not an academic library, our collections can be compared to university special collections. Famous examples of special libraries are the Library of Congress and presidential libraries.

Because items in the research library are museum artifacts that require special care, the library cannot be browsed. Additionally, material cannot be checked out from the library. In some cases, you may be required to use gloves to handle the material. Due to budget cuts and reduced hours, all in-person visits must be by scheduled appointment.

As part of a state museum, the library is available to the public and free to use. The research library also serves as a resource for the museum team.

  1. Manuscripts Collection – Personal documents, organizational records, and other collections comprised of predominantly unpublished materials.
  2. Historical Publications – General published material that is usually unavailable in public libraries, such as cultural resource reports, high school yearbooks, and phonebooks.
  3. Ephemera – Printed material not meant to last, such as ticket stubs, programs, and flyers.
  4. Maps – Historical and modern maps, including topographic.
  5. Newspapers & Periodicals – Physical magazines/journals, newspapers, and microfilm of local newspapers.
  6. Books – Non-circulating (can’t be checked out) books that range from out-of-print and rare, to easily available and mass-produced, the book collection is comprised of material related to the historical, cultural, and natural resources of Nevada.
  7. Multimedia – Often associated with manuscript collections, multimedia is a broad category comprised of DVDS, CDs, VHS, cassettes, etc. that are stored as a separate collection for preservation purposes. Media might contain home movies, oral histories, documents, or photos. This collection also contains mass-produced videos like documentaries. Material can be viewed in the research library with an appointment.



Reservations are currently required to visit the research library. To schedule a visit, contact