Western Libraries

Primary Source Literacy

Use and Incorporate

Information Literacy Learning Outcome: responsible creation and use of information

  1. Examine and synthesize a variety of sources in order to construct, support, or dispute a research argument.
  2. Use primary sources in a manner that respects privacy rights and cultural contexts.
  3. Cite primary sources in accordance with appropriate citation style guidelines or according to repository practice and preferences (when possible).
  4. Adhere to copyright and privacy laws when incorporating primary source information in a research or creative project.


Sometimes primary source materials, particularly archival materials and original research data, have restrictions placed on their access. This is primarily done to respect the individual privacy of donors and/or subjects of the records/data, as well as in certain contexts where materials need to be restricted to use only by people from within the same cultural group. Restrictions may be placed on material by the institution or by a donor. 

In addition to restrictions on physical access, copyright legislation restricts the ability to reproduce and display certain materials. Users are expected to comply with copyright and privacy legislation and need to knowledgeable about their responsibilities when conducting research with primary sources.

Copyright and Privacy