I’m Special Collections Librarian at the University of Bradford, where I’m lucky enough to be responsible for over 100 amazing collections of rare books and archives. I also recently managed a Research Libraries UK project investigating Special Collections in the UK: the challenges ahead and how we can support librarians to make the most of opportunities.
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.