Special collections and archives play a key role in the future of research libraries. However, significant challenges face institutions that wish to capitalize on that value, to leverage and make fully available the rich content in special collections in order to support research, teaching, and community engagement.
This report, produced in collaboration by OCLC Research and RLUK, builds on the foundation established by Taking Our Pulse: The OCLC Research Survey of Special Collections and Archives [pdf], a report published in 2010 that provides a rigorous, evidence-based appraisal of the state of special collections in the US and Canada. The survey provides both evidence and a basis for action as part of the RLUK's Unique and Distinctive Collections workstrand and OCLC Research's Mobilizing Unique Materials (24) theme.
This report provides institutional leaders, curators, special collections staff, and archivists both evidence and inspiration to plan for much needed and deserved transformation of special collections. Specifically, it contains twenty recommendations that the authors feel will have a positive impact toward addressing the issues identified. It also provides a backdrop for continued discussion, both within special collections and the larger library enterprise, for the role of special collections in an evolved information economy. These key findings and recommendations are highlighted in the report's executive summary (20) (.pdf: 69K/12 pp.), which has been published as a separate document.
Together, the survey findings published in this report and those published in its earlier companion piece establish a baseline for comparison of practices in the US and Canada between those in the UK and Ireland, and help to pave the way for building on mutual strengths and planning for joint activities where warranted.