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Unique and Distinctive Collections
This project aims to maximise the potential of unique and distinctive collections (UDCs) in RLUK libraries. Traditionally known as special collections, UDCs are common and prominent features of large research libraries and have helped define their identities and patterns of use. Such collections may consist of all types of documentary material: manuscripts and archives, books, pamphlets and periodicals, maps, graphic materials, sound and moving image material, as well as born-digital and digitised collections. Individual items may be unique or distinctive, but often these qualities derive from their gathering into larger collections or links to the history of the institution, region or research strengths.
UDCs occupy space, require specialist staff and equipment and may not be well used or valued by their parent organisations. However, they can be valuable assets to their parent organisations, attracting researchers and funding, engaging communities, enhancing reputations, and enriching student learning. Now new technologies are making UDCs much more visible and accessible. This project aims to assist RLUK members in their efforts to maximise the value of UDCs and exploit the potential of new developments. There has been no general mapping of the UDC landscape in the UK for many years. This mapping process will be a key part of the Promoting unique and distinctive collections strand in the RLUK strategic plan 2011-2014.
The project will examine the following aspects of UDCs, concentrating on those most likely to yield benefits to RLUK members.
- Connection with research programmes and institutional missions
- Role in teaching and learning
- External engagement
- Documentation, digitisation and marketing
- Staff support and skills
- Digital experimentation and exploitation
- Collaborative effort by RLUK
- Collection development
- Legal issues
- Desk research, reviewing published and unpublished discussion of special collections issues.
- Developing case studies of best and innovative practice.
- Working with the results of the recent OCLC/RLUK survey of UK special collections.
- Gathering information and ideas from RLUK curators, curators of other special collections, and other interested parties.
- Working with partner organisations in the UK and worldwide to ensure findings are as inclusive and helpful as possible.
- Publishing final report, followed by dissemination activities.
The project will last for a year, aiming to publish the report in September 2012.
Outcomes and benefits
The project will result in a comprehensive report on UDCs in RLUK member libraries (and by extension, others): their current condition and future prospects, with case studies and recommendations for RLUK and for members. The Report will contain practical advice, for example on institutional influence and external funding.
Among the expected benefits are:
- New directions for collaborative action by some or all RLUK libraries (for example on digitisation)
- Demonstration of best practice and innovative examples
- Suggestions and pointers for individual members
- Advice on external funding for RLUK acting collectively or for individual members
- Arguments to help make the case for UDCs within the parent institution or with external fundraisers.
|UDC Project Plan revised post Board 11 Oct.pdf||155.79 KB|