About this site

I created this site as an online extension of The Special Collections Handbook,  published by Facet Publishing in December 2011.  The book was well received by librarians, archivists and students worldwide, and as a result Facet commissioned me to write a Second Edition, published in December 2016.  They have now commissioned a Third Edition, due out in Autumn 2021.

The Handbook is a practical guide to help librarians and others new to caring for special collections, by which I mean all the exciting stuff in a library that needs extra care but that also appeals to wider audiences.  Rare books, maps, archives, photographs, objects, and increasingly, digital media.  Managing such collections requires a huge range of skills and knowledge.  The book covers them all:

  • Keeping collections safe: collections care, emergency planning, security
  • Managing collections: acquisitions, metadata (including managing hidden collections), digitisation, digital libraries
  • Collections for people: user services, teaching, outreach, marketing, exhibitions
  • Resources for collections: staffing and skills, space and buildings, advocacy, performance measurement and impact; fundraising.

The Third Edition is reviewed and rewritten throughout.  In particular I am making significant changes to everything digital: tech has changed so much in five years, not to mention the impact of remote work and delivery of services during the Covid-19 pandemic on digital capability.  There will be much more guidance and help on sustainability and resilience, cultural property, contested heritage, social justice, and aspects of teaching, learning and research.

Many of the examples, case studies and documentation in the book are freely available online.  Mindful of the dreaded link rot, which will make the links in the book obsolete before the text ceases to be relevant, I set up this site to maintain links as they migrate to new addresses.  I will also add new stories and information where I can, to make the experience of using the book more valuable.

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