Special Collections—Open!

VEKERDY, Lilla (2017) Special Collections—Open!. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2017 – Wrocław, Poland – Libraries. Solidarity. Society. in Session 231 - Rare Books and Special Collections.

Bookmark or cite this item: https://library.ifla.org/id/eprint/1741
Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.


Special Collections—Open!

Special collections are traditionally restricted places. To be true custodians of these treasure troves means—however—not only safekeeping them but also opening them up to various segments of society. In recent years the Smithsonian Libraries has developed many new ways that unlock its special collections. Besides the regular academic researchers we are now recruiting undergraduates as well to do their course projects in our special collections. Every year we host a large group of area high school history teachers to view our unique primary sources and implement them in their curriculum. Whole high school classes come regularly with their teacher who lectures over original rare books. The numerous tours and presentations that bring out the books from the stacks, support continuing education to any age group. In our gallery exhibitions we “show off” the most prized items of the library materials. We also organize a lecture series and other special programs related to our special collections. These events are accompanied by media and social media campaigns, as well as printed and online publications, and creation of commercial merchandise fitting the themes. Digitization of the collection materials is one of the greatest way to unbolt and promote special collections. Our ongoing mostly access-oriented digitization projects make the Smithsonian Libraries special collections available on various online platforms, anywhere in the world. Routine social media coverage unseal conventionally constricted special collections in an unimaginable extant. The Smithsonian Libraries is assertively promoting its special collections in all the above genres, and the result is not only more visitors in loco, but an enormous presence on the internet as well; all in all a vastly expanding circle of friends and users of our special collections in the Smithsonian Libraries.

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