In the Value Report, the last question offered to readers asks, “How does the library contribute to overall institutional reputation or prestige?” There are several factors that are listed, but the third mentions that one of the ways libraries can contribute is through their special collections. As stated, “special collections can be the ‘differentiating characteristic of research universities, the equivalent of unique laboratory facilities that attract faculty and research projects’”. (Pritchard, Special Collections Surge to the Fore 2009.) [Value, page 137] Unique special collections are not just found in research libraries, as many smaller colleges have distinctive special collections that also provide value to their institutions. In fact, there is increasing use of institutional repositories and image collection management  services that are being used to showcase and provide access to unique materials.  One can collect usage statistics for these types of online services, but there may be additional tools you’ve found useful to promote the value to your institution.  In evaluating your impact, one resource may be a toolkit for Archives and Special collections that is available online.

The University of Michigan has put together a toolkit, Archival Metrics, http://archivalmetrics.cms.si.umich.edu/  in cooperation with the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and the University of Toronto. In addition to the toolkit, there is a list of publications and presentations, as well as a bibliography of related materials

If you have completed some independent studies of your special collections and the prestige they bring to your institution, please share and let us know the nature of your study and if any completed reports are available.

Please note the Value blog will be taking a short holiday break and be back in January.

  One Response to “Contributing to Overall Institutional Reputation or Prestige”

  1. There are a few differences between “unique laboratory facilities” and “special collections.” The most significant in my mind is that for a new faculty member, especially one of high value, the department will purchase new lab materials as part of their hire. There is never any library collections budget available for new hires. Also significant, but changing in forward thinking libraries is that special collections tend to grow organically by whatever collections the library can get their hands on rather than seeking collections to match the strengths of the college or new areas of strategic importance. I like the idea of all libraries becoming special collections, where uniqueness is significant in the age of “core materials” being in large, online packages.

   
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