Understanding Access in Academic Library Special Collections
Keywords:Special collections, Access, Stewardship
American academic libraries have collected rare and unique non-circulating materials now referred to as special collections. These materials are handled differently than in other parts of academic library collections with specialized access policies, procedures, and staff. This research project looks at how ideas of access to special collections have changed during the period 1936 to 2019. Interviews were conducted with 21 special collections professionals. Using a grounded theory approach, a conceptual model of the aspects of access was developed. Ten aspects of access were mapped onto three overarching categories. An exploration of access through the lens of special collections is especially meaningful because of the tension between the principles of preservation and access within the special collections community. This project is also significant as the library profession as a whole explores how representation of diversity within collections and access to them impacts library users.
Copyright (c) 2022 Jae Rossman
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