One of the greatest problems facing Special Collections services is the legacy of historic collecting policies – or, rather, lack of them: hidden collections. Uncatalogued, sometimes wanted, sometimes not, taking up space and resources and causing all kinds of problems. As I quote in the Handbook, such collections really are our dirty little (big?) secret.
So I’m pleased to share the news of a new report which helps to provide evidence of the continuing problem in UK libraries: Hidden Collections. The report makes public the findings of a 2010 survey by RLUK and the London Library. It’s been released as an interim measure to get the rich detail librarians provided out into the open, pending further research into hidden archival collections. I helped prepare the report for publication as part of the RLUK Unique and Distinctive Collections project!
PS The survey covered entire libraries, not just their special collections, and all sectors of UK libraries.