Special Collections Librarianship: History, Theory, and Practice

Current faculty: Laura Stalker & Carrie Marsh

Description: Fundamental shifts in the library world – from collection-based repositories to service organizations –  are creating a new space for special collections. This space is paradoxically both center stage and out of the mainstream – its very abstruseness is an element of its popular appeal.  It is our role as preservers and gatekeepers of the original, the authentic, and the physical that distinguishes the special collections librarian, and informs our day-to-day work as well as our larger mission.

Through lectures, group discussions, and site visits the instructors will introduce special collections librarianship as a profession. We will examine its history and traditions, its underlying assumptions, and its current practices. Some areas we will examine in detail are ethical standards, collection development, security and reading room practice, cataloging, exhibitions, intellectual property, and outreach. In all cases the instructors will attempt to relate special collections librarianship to the larger library profession and to the larger world of the humanities.

Requirements: No previous experience necessary.

Years taught: 2012, 2014, 2018