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The Special Collections Handbook


The Special Collections Handbook, Third Edition is a comprehensive desk reference providing the essential principles, skills, and knowledge to manage special collections in any setting and covering all aspects of special collections work: preservation; developing collections; understanding objects; emergency planning; security; legal and ethical concerns; cataloguing; digitisation; marketing; outreach; teaching; impact; advocacy, and fundraising. This new edition has been revised and updated to incorporate the many developments in the field, reflecting the growth and dynamism of the sector and the complexity of the environment in which we operate. This will include:

  • Enriched and updated guidance on decolonising collections management and all other elements of special collections work
  • working towards zero-carbon buildings, preservation, and other aspects of special collections work
  • lessons/impact of Covid-19: managing remote access by staff and users, emergency planning, health and safety, risk assessments
  • new legislation affecting special collections, notably in the UK the Data Protection Act 2018
  • new and revised standards, such as the new British Standards relating to collections care, BS EN 16893 and BS 4971, which replace PD5454
  • new and emerging technologies in collections discovery, digitisation, digital resource and digital libraries, and how to manage them and build capacity. Particular attention will be paid to the implications of the 'digital shift' and the place of special collections in online and hybrid learning.

Comprehensive and written in a highly accessible manner, The Special Collections Handbook, Third Edition will be an essential resource for staff working with special collections in a wide range of settings, including academia, public libraries, religious organisations, museums, and at scales from solo librarians to 'nationals'.

Part 1. Discovering collections

1 Understanding objects in Special Collections

Part 2. Collections management

2 The care of Special Collections

3 Emergency planning for Special Collections

4 Acquiring and developing Special Collections

5 Cataloguing, description and metadata in Special Collections

6 Digitization and digital libraries in Special Collections

Part 3. Managing public access

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 Using Special Collections in education

Part 4. Governance and resources for Special Collections

12 Special Collections spaces

13 Organizational resources for Special Collections: people

14 Influencing and fund-raising for Special Collections

Appendix A The Special Collections reference shelf

Appendix B Skills for your Special Collections career

Appendix C Latin and palaeography

Alison Cullingford is Head of Library and Collections at Durham Cathedral, where she leads the team responsible for stewardship of the Cathedral's collections of medieval manuscripts, early printed books, archives, and objects. Previously she was Special Collections Librarian at the University of Bradford, where she was responsible for over 100 collections of modern archives and rare books and 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 regularly presents at conferences, blogs and tweets on the importance of the special collections librarian.

Special Collections Handbook, third edition
by experienced special
collections librarian Alison Cullingford is an ideal and unreservedly
recommended textbook for college and university Library Science curriculums and
instructional reference collections, as well as an essential instructional
resource for the personal and professional reading lists of both novice and
experienced librarians, including special collection custodians and stewards.'

The Midwest Book Review

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