Yes, for my own interest: I always like to know about special collections that are new to me. It never ceases to amaze and delight me that, after twenty-odd years of working with special collections, I keep hearing about new ones. Also, of course, the more I know about the sector, the better the work I do on the project will be.
However, this project is not aiming to map or list everybody’s collections in any formal way. This would be an IMMENSE task and would not actually take us nearer to the aims of this project.
We are less interested in the exact details of collections held by particular libraries and much more interested in helping libraries tackle the issues they face in making the most of those collections.
I hope this makes sense!
Not at all.
The project is funded by Research Libraries UK, so its members must benefit from our work. However, to ensure this happens, the final report will need to be based on as much knowledge, innovation, experience as possible. So we will look beyond the RLUK member libraries to Special Collections held by other organisations. As I said in my forthcoming book, Special Collections are everywhere, held by cathedrals, museums, learned societies, historic houses and so many more. This project is a wonderful opportunity to bring all these organisations together to celebrate collections and find new ways to work together.
It is also worth emphasising that the project will not be limited to the study of issues and activities in UK libraries. We will be making links and researching collections worldwide.
Aren’t these just Special Collections?
Well, yes, mostly. But RLUK wanted to emphasise that universities often hold collections which fall outside the standard Special Collections remit e.g. other library collections, data sets, research outputs, or objects. These too may have qualities which mean that their parent organisations and wider society should value and support them. Not to mention that in some organisations, Special Collections includes archives, in others not, and sometimes they are the collections which are neither old books nor archives.
U & D (I find) are useful terms when discussing collections held in universities, whether traditional “Special Collections” or not. We’re not suggesting that universities start using them instead of “Special Collections”: too long for everyday use, U & D Collections would become UDCs and then we have UDC Librarians and the like, UDC Reading Room etc, not helpful for users!
I’ll be interested to find out what librarians, archivists, and all the other people who will be involved with this project make of the name.