Moving Special Collections
Forward in an Age of
Discovery: Themes from
the ARL-CNI Forum
Lisa R. Carter, Head, Special Collections Research Center,
North Carolina State University Libraries and Visiting Program Officer
for the ARL Special Collections Working Group
Tcollections
his year’s ARL-CNI Fall Forum, “An Age of Discovery: Distinctive
Collections in the Digital Age,” highlighted the opportunities special
provide to engage users and realize the teaching, learning,
and research missions of libraries and universities. Two hundred library
directors and special collections librarians and archivists gathered at the
Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC on October 15–16, 2009, to consider the
value proposition of and innovation possibilities inherent in collections of rare
books, archives, and other unique materials. The forum was based on the
extensive and cumulative work of the ARL Special Collections Working Group
and, specifically, its recent discussion report, Special Collections in ARL Libraries.1
Scholars, archivists, librarians and teachers spoke passionately about the value
of special collections; how collaborations and integrating special collections into
the enterprise can promote their use, garner them increased attention, and
provide additional resources; how students develop life-long learning and
research skills working with rare materials; and what issues are more prominent
now that many of our distinctive collections are available, and even born,
digitally. Presentations and recordings from the forum are available from the
ARL Web site.2
Several themes recurred throughout the forum, suggesting areas for future
exploration, effort, and emphasis, including:
1. Use Drives Special Collections Activity
2. Special Collections Are Central to the Academic Enterprise
3. Digital and Collaboration are Necessary
RLI 267
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DECEMBER 2009 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC