What most people imagine when they hear “special collections”
What special collections is about …
The focus of work in Special Collections and Archives is about service–reference service to the students and others who use the holdings. The Wednesday before spring break we extended our service hours knowing that two classes had assignments using holdings here due before break.
“How are woodcuts and copperplate engravings distinguished?” “Is this quarto or folio size?” “Do you have pictures showing the 1938 hurricane’s damage done to trees on campus?” “It’s apparent this book was rebound, how do I figure out how old this binding is?” “Do you have a copy of the campus plan from before 1920?” “So, do you get to sit and read all the books in here?”
Most of us working in Special Collections and Archives would enjoy sitting around and reading all the books in here. Instead, our time is invested providing reference service to these holdings and preparing the tools that make access possible. A day like Wednesday’s with its packed reading room lets us know we’re on the right track–providing reference service to the students and others using the holdings here.