Handbook redux

This summer I will mostly be writing.

I’m working on a NEW edition of the Special Collections Handbook: deadline July.

V0040734 A woman is sitting at a desk in a library, writing a letter.
A woman is sitting at a desk in a library, writing a letter. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Engraving by I. Taylor after himself. CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

I was delighted when Facet Publishing invited me to create a new edition.  It’s been five years since the first edition was published: in a fast-changing world there are many new developments to share with readers, including:

  • New thinking about collecting and collections …
  • Growing emphasis on teaching and outreach …
  • LOTS on preservation and curation of digital …
  • Much more on impact and value of special collections …
  • New and revised standards, notably archive accreditation, PAS 197 and PD 5454.
  • Changes to legislation, especially UK copyright law, and new ways to manage risk.
  • Changing nature and role of cataloguing.

Despite the pressures of austerity, managerialism, user expectations etc, I feel that the world of special collections is in a much better state than it was when I started in the 1990s.

In universities, special collections are becoming more and more visible (thanks to digital libraries, social media, and yay for the forthcoming Directory!).  Their value to parent organisations is becoming better understood and long-needed investment in premises, staff and cataloguing is happening.  It is great to see organisations like Research Libraries UK and the National Archives collaborating with special collections librarians to find new ways to bring unique and distinctive collections to the fore.

But these new skills and ideas don’t replace traditional ones.  The special collections librarians of the future will still need to know how to care for paper documents, how to describe early printed books, and have at least a smattering of Latin.  We go into the 2020s with masses of hidden collections still in need of care and cataloguing.

There is so much to do and so much to learn.  I hope the new Handbook will help.

PS If you used the original edition (or even if you didn’t), I would be very interested in your thoughts about the new edition.  Contact me at a.cullingford@bradford.ac.uk.



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