Research Libraries UK
Special Collections Programme2020-08-13T18:49:46+01:00


The RLUK Special Collections Programme is a flexible programme of networks, tools and resources, events and opportunities designed by the RLUK Executive to support its members in a consortium-wide initiative to develop an audience-focused strategy for RLUK special collections.

Our collections, and those who do, or might wish to, use them are at the heart of all we do. The aspiration of RLUK members is to develop a strategy which offers an iterative, inclusive and collaborative model for working progressively, to drive up use and attract reward and recognition for special collections across the consortium. This strategy has been developed based on sound research, in-depth exploration of challenge areas and robust foundations.


The SCP case studies showcase the value of special collections for research, teaching and learning as well as public engagement.

This resource will be of special interest to members and those in the broader cultural heritage sector who are interested in developing impact strategies and activities, or capturing and communicating the significance of their collections. The case studies showcase good practice, creative outputs and outcomes and shine a light on some of the pathways to impact. They have been categorised based on the themes of ‘places and spaces’, ‘people and projects’, and ‘research outputs’ – as our data set grows, these categorisation themes are likely to evolve and potentially change. Each case study comprises one or a combination of the following: a published or previously unpublished narrative (e.g. blog posts, journal articles) where library staff and/or researchers share their experiences within specific projects and reflect on the journey to success; a film or a sound recording where library professionals and/or researchers discuss projects based on special collection and archival material; one or more project outputs outside the aforementioned formats, such as a website, a repository, an exhibition.

Places and spaces

Case studies of capital projects, often involving collaborations, which have led to the development of new buildings and spaces that were deemed successful in terms of opening up new impact possibilities for the libraries and their special collections.

People and projects

This is a collection of, mainly, sound recordings and film clips featuring academics talking about their subjects, methods and teaching activities and the role that special collections and archives have played in developing them as well as collections staff showcasing and discussing (parts of) collections that have been the focus of recent access funding projects to support research.

Research outputs

These case studies include examples of research outputs from larger-scale projects which are based on either a single source or subject themed sources from collections around the UK. The outputs range from online repositories and websites to digital humanities projects, exhibitions and narratives, and they offer fascinating insights into the complex ways in which collections have contributed to the wider impact of current research.

Research outputs

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