Introduction to Special Collections Librarianship

Current faculty: Lynda Claassen & Laura Stalker

Description: An introduction to the principles and practice of special collections librarianship, with an emphasis on rare books. Topics to be covered include: the definition and role of special collections, audiences and users, collection development, intellectual and bibliographic access, exhibitions and other outreach programs, preservation, physical facilities and security, grants and development, donor relations, ethics, intellectual property issues, and the impact of digitization on special collections operations and services. Institutional politics and culture and their implications for special collections will be discussed.

This course provides a conceptual and practical overview of special collections librarianship. It is intended for those who are interested in special collections librarianship, but who have not had formal training or instruction. We will consider how special collections contributes to fulfilling the teaching and research mission of educational and cultural institutions and examine strategies for enhancing and expanding the use of special collections among a variety of constituencies, especially in college, university, and independent research libraries. Current trends in higher education and libraries, including technology, will be considered from the perspective of their impact on special collections. The course will cover opportunities and challenges of the current environment, in particular maintaining core functions of special collections while adding new audiences and activities.

Participants will visit several important special collections libraries in the Los Angeles area, including UCLA’s Department of Special Collections, the Research Library at the Getty, The Huntington Library, and the Libraries of the Claremont Colleges.

Requirements:In their personal statement, applicants should provide a brief description of their library or special collections experience, the nature of their interest in this course, and specific topics or issues they would like to see addressed.

Years taught: 2006, 2007

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