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[BKARTS] Trends in Rare Book & Documents Special Collections Management Published

Primary Research Group has published Trends in Rare Book & Documents Special Collections Management (ISBN: 1-57440-095-9).

This special report examines the management practices and business decisions of special collections libraries with a focus on rare books, manuscripts, maps, and other historical documents. The report profiles the John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections at Boston College, the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, the L. Tom Perry Special Collections at Brigham Young University-Provo, the Huntington Library, the Newberry Library, the San Antonio Public Library, the Watkinson Library at Trinity College, the Special Collections Research Center at the University of Southern Illinois-Carbondale, and the Bancroft Library at the University of California-Berkeley. Interviews were conducted in November and December of 2007. Additional information through an online form was provided by San Jose State University Kent State University Map Library AGS Libraries, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and California State University-Chico.

Some of the main findings of the report were that:

• Trends in special collections libraries management are relatively stable in terms of acquisitions, staff, and preservation strategy but are in a transition with newer issues such as choosing new technologies and growing an online presence with more searchable, browsable features.

• Consortiums and, to a lesser degree, relationships with commercial vendors have played a large role in bringing digitization projects, catalog availability, and general publicity to special collections libraries that otherwise might lack the resources to work on such projects. Similarly, many smaller libraries simply lack the resources to develop complex applications to manage data or streamline workflows, and are dependent on larger libraries to provide the programming expertise and developmental leadership to offer solutions, open source or otherwise.

• Relationships with commercial vendors to provide limited edition materials and other items for sale seem to be on the upswing.

• Nearly all librarians we spoke to mentioned an interest in digitizing their patron tracking system but no vendors had provided a way to effectively address the needs of a special collections library. Most currently use entirely paper records, and the very few who used any kind of digital tracking had not progressed beyond simple Microsoft Excel sheets.

• We found that digitization generally has a dual purpose but is currently more effective in piquing interest and drawing Web traffic than it is in preservation. Digitization may also help with making available collections that are normally stored offsite, but a certain amount of technological infrastructure needs to be in place before any of this can happen.

• Online exhibits with metadata-tagged images and text also bring in significant additional traffic and publicity. These exhibits do not have to be large or comprehensive of the collection itself in order to draw in viewers and researchers, but lack of infrastructure and staff resources often blocks libraries from doing such projects. In these cases, consortiums can play a significant role in digitizing exhibits when the home institution is not equipped to work on such projects alone.

For further information view our website at www.PrimaryResearch.com

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