34 Association of Research Libraries Research Library Issues 291 2017 database licensed. And I will add here that, surprisingly, it is not just our archivists and special collections librarians who have trouble stepping across dividing lines.”2 Given the historical context of the special collections repository, the need to protect and preserve items, and the imposed physical limitations based on archival principles and practices, it is not surprising that both liaison librarians and special collections librarians and archivists find it difficult to promote each other’s expertise. Further, they may find, even when it is most relevant, that it is difficult or impossible to work collaboratively. There are numerous challenges that create and perpetuate a divide between liaison and special collections librarian work, such as: By emphasizing differences and distinctive needs, the commonalities that bind special collections and other areas of the library tend to be minimized. Distinct hours, access policies, technical processing, resource discovery approaches, and physical locations represent exceptions that require workarounds from mainstreamed operations. “Special” can convey a sense of superiority giving rise to misperceptions, distrust, rivalry, and jealousy. Different administrative reporting structures can exacerbate rather than minimize organizational divides. Senior leadership must signal the importance of working closely together. Emphasis on the physicality of special collections is increasingly contrasted with general collections as they become disembodied digital objects more valued for their informational content and ease of use rather than their materiality. The rise of liaison programs can lead to turf wars over areas of responsibility and the primacy of contacts with faculty.3 Acknowledging these challenges, and stepping back from them for a moment, it is useful to ask questions: What would a more synthesized style of working together look like? What means are necessary for moving this process forward, taking away constructs
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