Special Collections and Manuscripts

Authored by: Lynne M. Thomas

Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, Fourth Edition

Print publication date:  November  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781466552593
eBook ISBN: 9781315116143
Adobe ISBN:


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Special collections and manuscripts are discussed as an area of professional library practice, a subset of library materials encompassing rare books, archives, manuscripts, and any other materials handled outside of mainstream library work, and an institutional structure within libraries. Aspects of materials that make them eligible for special collections are outlined. The history of special collections, rare book rooms, and archives is briefly discussed, along with a brief history of professional special collections librarianship. Trends in modern special collections are described, emphasizing the uses of special collections in academic research libraries in the United States. Common professional practices and career paths for special collections professionals, along with necessary skills, knowledge, and education for modern special collections work are also discussed.

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