I’m Head of Collections at a wonderful Cathedral, home to medieval manuscripts, early printed books, archives, and a museum. Previously I managed Special Collections at a 1960s technical university, with particularly important modern archives. I’ve been involved with all kinds of special collections management activities, and enjoy writing and speaking about how we can improve collections care and public access.
Times are hard: we face cuts to public services at a time when mass digitisation even of early books means that stakeholders may see our work as irrelevant (isn’t it all scanned in?). Not so, I think the future for Special Collections will involve more emphasis on artefacts, stories, and nodes of expertise, rather than being a place in which historic texts are accessed. I argue that we can continue to bring collections and people together by effective marketing and advocacy, and by exploiting the unimaginable possibilities of social media and other exciting new technologies. Oh, and collaboration, with all kinds of partners.