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The Special Collections Handbook


This comprehensive and no-nonsense guide to working with special collections and rare books is an essential day-to-day companion.

Working with special collections can vary dramatically from preserving a single rare book to managing and digitizing vast mixed-media archives, yet the role of the information professional is always critical in tapping into the potential of these collections, protecting their legacy and bringing them to the attention of the wider public. This book offers up-to-date guidance which pulls together insights from best practice across the heritage sector to build innovative, co-operative and questioning mind-sets that will help them to cope in turbulent times.

The Handbook covers all aspects of special collections work: preservation, developing collections, understanding objects, emergency planning, security, legal and ethical concerns, cataloguing, digitization, marketing, outreach, teaching, impact, advocacy and fundraising.

New to this edition:

  • coverage of new standards and concepts including unique and distinctive collections (UDCs), The Leeds Typology, Archive Accreditation, PD 5454:2012 and PAS 197
  • discussion of the major changes to laws affecting special collections including UK copyright law relating to library/archive exception and orphan works and forthcoming changes to data protection in the EU
  • exploration of new trends in research including the rise of digital humanities, open access, the impact agenda and the REF
  • updates to the sections on marketing, audience development and fundraising to include social media, customer journey mapping and crowdsourcing and more
  • consideration of impact and indicators, digitization and new skills frameworks from CILIP and RBMS.

This is the essential practical guide for anyone working with special collections or rare books in libraries, archives, museums, galleries and other heritage organizations. It is also a useful introduction to special collections work for academics and students taking library and information courses.

Preface and acknowledgements Introduction 1. The care of Special Collections 2. Emergency planning for Special Collections 3. Understanding objects in Special Collections 4. Acquiring and developing Special Collections 5. Cataloguing, description and metadata in Special Collections 6. Digitization and digital libraries in Special Collections 7. Legal and ethical issues in Special Collections 8. User services in Special Collections 9. Marketing and communications in Special Collections 10. Widening access to Special Collections 11. Organizational resources for Special Collections: space and people 12. Influencing and fund-raising for Special Collections Afterword: Special Collections futures Appendix A: The Special Collections reference shelf Appendix B: Skills for your Special Collections career Bibliography Index
Alison Cullingford is Special Collections Librarian at the University of Bradford, where she is responsible for over 100 collections of modern archives and rare books. The service was the first English university to achieve Archive Accreditation. She also managed the Unique and Distinctive Collections project for Research Libraries UK. An active member of the CILIP Rare Books and Special Collections Group and many other sector groups, Alison also regularly presents at conferences, blogs and tweets on the importance of the special collections librarian.

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