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Library Resources: Primary Sources: Home

Finding primary sources for history, science, literature, etc.

Key Sites

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Primary sources are the raw materials of history — original documents and objects which were created at the time under study. They are different from secondary sources, accounts or interpretations of events created by someone without firsthand experience.-- from Library of Congress, “Using Primary Sources”

Examples of primary sources:

artifacts, audio recordings, autobiographies, captains’ logs, diaries, emails, eyewitness accounts, government and organization records, interviews, letters, market surveys, novels, patents, photographs, poems, polls, postcards, proceedings from meetings, reports on discoveries, science experiment data, speeches, videos, weather charts, works of art or music, some websites.

Custom Google Search

Use this box to search the web for primary sources. Only collections marked with an asterisk (*) in this guide will be searched.

Greek Fire

Image from a 12-century illuminated manuscript, the Madrid  Skylitzes, is in the public domain.

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Library Information


Cuesta library buildings will reopen August 16th. See SLO library hours for Fall 2021 below. Click for Information about library services.

Monday: 8 am - 8 pm
Tuesday: 8 am - 8 pm
Wednesday: 8 am - 8 pm
Thursday: 8 am - 8 pm
Friday:  8 am - 4 pm

For tech support requests, email

For help getting textbooks, Chromebooks and WiFi hotspots, email

SLO PHONE (voicemail only)
Circulation Desk: (805) 546-3155
Reference Desk: (805) 546-3157



Cuesta library buildings will reopen August 16th. North County Library hours will be announced soon. Click for Information about library services.

Monday: TBD
Tuesday: TBD
Wednesday: TBD
Thursday: TBD
Friday: TBD

For tech support requests, email

For textbooks and course reserves, email

NCC PHONE (voicemail only)
Circulation Desk: (805) 591-6211
Reference Desk: (805) 592-9410


Grateful acknowledgment is given to librarian Kelly L. Smith of the University of California, San Diego for the use of numerous links from her primary sources libguide.