[Coll_Collab] Fwd: Special Collections Working Group at ARL

Martha L Smalley martha.smalley at yale.edu
Mon Jun 4 10:25:34 EDT 2007

Dear Collections Collaborative list members,

Alice asked me to forward to you the following report of her work 
with the ARL Special Collections Working Group, in which our 
colleague Michael Rush is also involved:

>I spent much of last week at the Association of Research Libraries' 
>directors' meeting in St Louis, and on Wednesday we held the first 
>meeting of the new Special Collections Working Group, which I chair 
>and which Michael Rush from the Beinecke is serving as Visiting 
>Program Officer.
>Below and attached are some details about the group, which I have 
>excerpted from a longer message sent to the group in preparation for 
>our meeting.  I thought it might be of interest to the Special 
>Collections sub-committee and to members of the Collections 
>Collaborative, to know that this group is at work, and in 
>particular, to know of its close connection to Yale.
>The working group's first meeting consisted of a lively discussion including:
>         * how to define what we mean by collecting and collections 
> ( issues around the harvesting and preservation of born-digital 
> materials such as fugitive web-sites; questions relating to the 
> role of records management in helping organizations to preserve 
> their own records, e.g. in the arena of human rights; the need for 
> sensitivity to other people's patrimony and the way digital 
> surrogates could ensure preservation of content.)
>         * what we mean by "exposing" collections, e.g. in using 
> them for teaching
>         * the relationship of this group to others at ARL, 
> including the E-science group and a working group on Preservation.
>Having aired the issues in a wide-ranging way, we agreed that we 
>want to focus on a definition for special collections in the 21st 
>century, by which we mean a definition that will embrace the earlier 
>material we continue to collect, and which is in danger of 
>disappearing, as well as multi-media and electronic materials.  It 
>is clear that we have a useful role to perform in defining good 
>practice for the research library community.  We also wish to 
>establish good communications about complementary collections.  This 
>will support future collaborative endeavors.  To that end, we are 
>asking ARL to set up a web site with information about all the 
>special collections materials that were volunteered previously for a 
>75th anniversary volume, to be produced in the fall.  (Each ARL 
>library was asked to propose three possible areas of special 
>collections that could be included in this celebratory volume, and 
>the committee then chose one from each library.  Yale's contribution 
>is Maps.) While we are nowhere near having a register/inventory of 
>special collections in ARL libraries, this information is a good 
>starting point.
>I'd like to keep you posted about the work of the ARL group from 
>time to time.  Our next meeting will be in October, but we'll be 
>exchanging information between now and then.
>Best wishes,
>>Mark Dimunation, Library of Congress
>>Jackie Dooley, University of California- Irvine
>>Nancy Eaton, Pennsylvania State University
>>Joan Giesecke, University of Nebraska
>>Anne Kenney, Cornell University
>>Victoria Montavon, University of Cincinnati
>>Susan Nutter, North Carolina State University
>>Bernard Reilly, Center for Research Libraries
>>Gary Strong, University of California- Los Angeles
>>Rich Szary, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
>>Corresponding Members
>>Graham Jefcoate, Nijmegen University, Netherlands
>>Clifford Lynch, Coalition for Networked Information
>>Richard Ovenden, University of Oxford
>>Alice Schreyer, University of Chicago
>>Initial Staff Liaisons
>>Jaia Barrett, ARL
>>Julia Blixrud, ARL
>>Michael Rush, Yale Beinecke Library /ARL Visiting Program Officer
>>Crit Stuart, ARL
>>Working Group Charge
>>Our Working Group was established by ARL's Steering Committee on
>>Library Roles in Research, Teaching, and Learning to provide it with
>>advice on special collections issues. "Special collections" is
>>construed broadly to include distinctive material in all media and
>>attendant library services. The full charge is attached but I should
>>call attention to the two issues that the Steering Committee
>>identifies as first priorities for the Working Group:
>>1. Identify opportunities and recommend actions for ARL and other
>>organizations that will encourage concerted action and coordinated
>>planning for collecting and exposing 19th- and 20th-century materials
>>in all formats (rare books, archives and manuscripts, audio, and
>>video, etc).
>>2. Identify criteria and strategies for collecting digital and other
>>new media material that currently lack a recognized and responsible
>>structure for stewardship.
>>While individual libraries should ultimately take action to acquire
>>and expose such materials, ARL can provide leadership for encouraging
>>collective activities. These would include but not be limited to,
>>collection analysis, identification of gaps, coordination, and use of
>>a "preliminary record" for identifying and making accessible
>>otherwise hidden collections."
>>The full charge is attached.
>>Working Group Roster
>>The members of our working group are a wonderful mix of directors of
>>ARL libraries and practicing experts in special collections. We are
>>also fortunate to have recruited expert "corresponding members" who
>>have agreed to contribute to our work via email.   In addition, we
>>have two senior ARL staff, Julia Blixrud and Jaia Barrett, working
>>with us initially as we put our plans in place. We will also benefit
>>from the arrival of two new ARL program staff who will assist our
>>deliberations. Crit Stuart, formerly of Georgia Tech, begins his
>>assignment as ARL Program Director for Research, Teaching, and
>>Learning the week before our meeting.  And I am thrilled that Yale's
>>Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library has agreed for Michael Rush
>>to work with us part time as an ARL Visiting Program Officer for the
>>next 18-24 months.  Together we form an impressive group with ties
>>into the many communities where we anticipate our assignment may take
>>Background Information for the Working Group
>>For your background reading, we are attaching a paper by Stan Katz
>>titled "Scholars and Teachers: Hidden Partners for Hidden
>>Collections." Many of you heard Stan deliver this paper at the 2003
>>Exposing Hidden Collections conference sponsored by ARL and held at
>>the Library of Congress. The paper sets a useful context for our
>>group. It reflects the personal views of a scholar who is an active
>>consumer of special collections for his research and teaching, and
>>who recognizes the issues that affect the availability and use of
>>these resources.
>>Other background resources that you should be aware of, and perhaps
>>review at a future point in our deliberations, include:
>>+ The other published papers of the 2003 "Exposing Hidden
>>Collections"  Conference in RBM (vol. 5, no. 2, Fall 2004)
>>http://www.ala.org/ala/acrl/acrlpubs/rbm/backissuesvol5no2/ rbmvol5no2.htm
>>+ the Final Report from the former ARL Special Collections Task Force.
>>+ The Special Collections section of the ARL Web site

Martha Lund Smalley
Special Collections Librarian / Curator of the Day Missions Collection
Yale Divinity School Library
409 Prospect St.  New Haven, CT 06511
Phone 203 432-5289  Fax 203 432-3906
Martha.Smalley at yale.edu 
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