This post from the Special Collections librarian at the Jerwood Library, Trinity Laban, is inspiring. It tells a story of hidden, neglected special collections which were a burden and a concern for library staff. The writer shows how making the collections visible and making the case for their support changed everything.
It’s particularly interesting that the story centres on MUSIC collections. Rather like maps, music collections have immense potential for research and other use but don’t fit easily into standard library patterns of work and require extra skills and knowledge from their curators. I’ve worked in a music library in my time and it was a very steep learning curve – considerable knowledge of languages was needed along with understanding of the world of classical and other kinds of music. Thus it is not surprising that music collections often crop up in surveys of hidden collections. There was a wonderful outbuilding full of such things where I worked – full of sheet music and historic formats – not quite like the room above but not far off!
PS This fantastic image of “The Record Matrix Room” is from the Flickr Commons site of Musee McCord Museum and has no known copyright restrictions!