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ABOUT THE SPECIAL COLLECTIONS PROGRAMME (SCP)

The SCP was created to provide all those working in special collections, at leadership and other levels, with coordinated support for initiatives and activities.

We aim to foster collaborative working, encourage sharing of skills and knowledge and improve our understanding of our current and potential audiences. 

The long term goal is to develop our practice and position to reflect a shift in focus taking place across the wider museum, library and archives landscape to include, not only the collections we look after, but the widest possible range of people who might want to use them.

We can strive for progress by working at institutional level with audiences, both new and familiar, working collectively as a consortium where we can have more impact by doing so, and by proactively looking to forge collaborative research networks in which both audiences and our departments form an integral part of the core. Our aspiration is to attract reward and recognition, both for our collections and for the contribution we make through our skills and knowledge to the work others do. By working together to achieve impact we can capture, we can create opportunities to share what we know more widely and show our collections in new ways to attract new audiences.

OUR PRINCIPLES

  • robust foundations
  • collaboration, not competition
  • inclusivity
  • best-practice
  • perseverance
  • network building
  • combining of knowledge to achieve progress
  • learning from existing examples
  • taking a long view for the big things
  • embracing short term gains where we can

SCP TIMELINE

  • The beginnings of the SCP

    The SCP is the result of an iterative, inclusive process and began with 12 months of development work, starting with a workshop in 2016 where RLUK members were asked to identify the main challenges facing special collections. A second workshop at DCDC that year reaffirmed the challenge themes and these were adopted as the foundation for an emerging development brief.

  • Special Collections Leadership Network (SCLN)

    The Special Collections Leadership Network (SCLN) was founded, which establishes a clear line of communication between special collections departments across RLUK, provides peer to peer support for those in leadership roles and is responsible for embedding the SCP at institutional level.

  • Funders Network

    An informal Funders Network was established to facilitate the start of a useful dialogue between RLUK special collections and a range of funders currently supporting projects in UK Libraries and archives, and also to begin a conversation that can develop over time between the funders, who can also benefit from an exchange and sharing of news and developments to ensure minimum overlap between remits. This group meets 2-3 times a year to discuss areas of common interest and exchange news and views with regards to the UK funding landscape.

  • Advisory Group

    An Advisory Group was established in 2016 to provide peer review and advice to the RLUK Board on matters arising out of the SCP development phase. The inaugural group included RLUK Board and Executive members, as well as external members from the Academy and from a range of non-RLUK heritage organisations specialising in public engagement.

  • Consultations

    As part of the development phase of the SCP, a series of regional workshops were held in Manchester, London, Glasgow and Birmingham to explore themes around leadership, audience, significance, and funding. Direct relationships and contacts were formed, on behalf of RLUK, with key stakeholders, including funders and other national bodies. Throughout this period, discussions continued between RLUK, its members, and wider participators and user groups in an effort to ensure as many views as possible were included in the thinking and discourse around the development of an action plan that could be taken forward into the longer term.

  • The SCP at DCDC

    Two SCP-related events take place for the first time at DCDC. The purpose was to develop a more outward-facing profile for the programme through sharing our experiences with the broader sector. The first event was an SCLN-led workshop on audience development for special collections and the second, was the Funders Marketplace, led by the Funders Network. The Marketplace showcased up to date funding opportunities and offered delegates an opportunity to pitch ideas directly to funders in a brief, pre-booked 1:1.

  • SCP Phase 2 begins

    The second phase of the SCP aimed to embed the programme and establish sustainable practice for longer term success. As part of this plan, we worked with our members to identify further areas of interest, including current challenges and concerns, around special collections and archives that would lead to new strands of strategic activity for RLUK. Meetings led by the SCLN and Funders Network continued taking place throughout the year.

  • The Advisory Network

    The Advisory Group, which was very helpful in the development stage of the SCP, evolved into a looser network of individuals, the Advisory Network. Members of this network continue to be engaged in RLUK’s work and contribute their expertise through participating in events, discussions, and other activities.

  • Strengthening SCP presence at DCDC

    Three SCP-related events were organised and delivered at DCDC18: an SCLN workshop on audiences of digital collections; the Funders Marketplace; and an SCP panel focusing on the impact of special collections, where the results of an RLUK project on the topic were first presented by the Executive (report launched in March 2019).

  • New SCLN co-convenors

    Two new SCLN co-convenors were appointed for a 2-year term of office.

  • SCP Phase 3 begins

    The third phase of the programme focuses on delivering the goals of the RLUK strategy in the area of special collections and exploring areas where the work of the SCLN can feed into other key areas of the strategy, such as the digital scholarship strand. Meetings led by the SCLN and Funders Network continue to take place throughout the year.

  • The digital shift in collections

    Members of the SCLN participate in a section of the digital scholarship survey, led by the RLUK Digital Scholarship Network (DSN), that explores the digital shift in collections. The published report can be found on the RLUK website.

  • New SCP report

    The RLUK impact report on ‘Evidencing the impact and value of Special Collections’ is launched.

  • SCP’s international presence

    The findings of the RLUK report on ‘Evidencing the impact and value of Special Collections’ are presented at LIBER 2019, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.

  • SCLN publishes results of survey

    The SCLN publishes the results of a two-part network survey with the purpose of facilitating knowledge exchange across members. The first part explored the common interests and challenges across members with the purpose of facilitating knowledge sharing and informing SCLN activity for the next two years. The second, aimed to identify the systems currently in use by members throughout the lifecycle of collections.

  • Joining forces for DCDC19

    The SCP will continue to have a strong presence at DCDC this year through two events; the Funders Marketplace and a workshop where the SCLN will be joining forces with other RLUK networks to explore the topic of digital scholarship and the modern research library.

  • SCLN contributes to new RLUK group

    Members of the SCLN joined a new RLUK group aimed to explore issues around the impact of the digital shift on members as well as develop a vision for the research library of 2030.

Special collections reports

Read some of the latest RLUK reports exploring aspects of our members’ unique and distinctive collections (UDCs).

SCP NETWORKS

Special Collections Leadership Network (SCLN)

The SCLN establishes a clear line of communication between special collections departments across RLUK, provides peer to peer support for those in leadership roles and is set to become the focal point for embedding the SCP at institutional level.

Find out more

Funders Network

The Funders Network was established to facilitate the start of a useful dialogue between RLUK and a range of funders currently supporting projects in UK Libraries and archives. It also aimed to begin a conversation that can develop over time between funders, who can also benefit from an exchange and sharing of news and developments to ensure minimum overlap between remits. The group meets two to three times a year to share developments, ideas and common challenges and opportunities.