SPEC Kit 317: Special Collections Engagement · 19
Survey Questions and Responses
The SPEC survey on Special Collections Engagement was designed by Adam Berenbak, Research Services
Associate; Cate Putirskis, University Archives Specialist; Genya O’Gara, Libraries’ Fellow; Claire Ruswick,
Library Associate; Danica Cullinan, Library Associate; Judy Allen Dodson, Curatorial Assistant; and Emily
Walters, Library Associate, of the North Carolina State University Libraries’ Special Collections Research
Center, and Kathy Brown, Director of Planning and Research for North Carolina State University Libraries.
These results are based on data submitted by 79 of the 124 ARL member libraries (64%) by the deadline of
March 18, 2010. The survey’s introductory text and questions are reproduced below, followed by the response
data and selected comments from the respondents.
Special collections and archives have been actively seeking out and building relevant primary-source collections for years, and they
have devoted signiﬁcant staff time to the processing (arrangement and description) of these items, helping to make these resources
coherent and accessible. The implementation of encoded archival description has allowed collection guides/ﬁnding aids to be
displayed on the Web, and this step has brought special collections holdings to a wider exposure than ever before – both at the local
institution and beyond. Nonetheless, students, faculty, and other scholars/researchers afﬁliated with your institution may be unaware
of available special collections resources and their potential to support research and education at all levels of the curriculum. The next
logical step in the outreach process for special collections is targeted engagement and increasingly it is becoming a core component
of special collections activities. Engagement, in the context of this survey, is deﬁned as activities provided by special collections and
archives that foster use of materials and resources to enhance both research and education.
This survey examines exhibits, events, instruction, and other activities that are targeted to engage students, faculty, and other
scholars/researchers with special collections for research and education. It investigates who coordinates these activities, where they
are held, how they are promoted, and how they are evaluated. It also asks for examples of events and policies. Through the results
of this survey, we hope to determine the variety of engagement models currently being used in special collections at ARL member
libraries and to identify the successful models.
Note: For the purposes of this survey, “special collections” is used as an umbrella term for the facility that houses rare books and
serials, manuscripts, archival materials, and/or other unique collections.