Andrew Green, former Librarian at the National Library of Wales, gave a talk last night at Swansea University on “Celebrating our Research Collections” to mark the 80th anniversary of the university’s first purpose-built building: the 1937 library. The focus of the talk was “prospects for collections – analogue and digital, national and local – in humanities, research and learning”.
Andrew’s talk focused on the value that special collections can bring to their institutions, in particular drawing out three key points:
- “Special collections are assets, to be cared for. They matter.”: caring for its special collections is a clear demonstration that a university respects research and excellence in it, something that will attract the best academic staff and students. Andrew also spoke of the need for retaining “excellent staff” and “energetic promotion” for special collections.
- “Special collections are important for people outside the institution”: archives and special collections are also important in how a university constructs its relationships with the wider community and accessibility to collections is vital.
- “Special collections benefit from size and variety”: there are economies of scale in bringing collections together, to benefit from shared resources and expertise.
Andrew highlighted examples of particular merit which showed the possibilities for investment in special collections by a university (or collaboration): the striking Ruskin Library at Lancaster University, the cross-sectoral Hull History Centre and the Keep at Brighton.
WHELF’s Archives & Special Collections group provides a supportive and collaborative network for staff in Welsh HE institutions. A key aspect of their work is to promote their special collections: you can view a selection of “WHELF’s Treasures” on this website.
Andrew Green’s blog can be found at http://gwallter.com.
Update: the full text of Andrew’s talk has now been added to his blog.