University of Illinois Library Special Collections Division

25 Year Future Vision

30 March 2004

The Special Collections Division and its constituent units collect, preserve and make accessible all formats of  rare, valuable, fragile, and otherwise special book, archival, and map materials in accordance with the highest professional standards and with resources appropriate to the task.  We exercise stewardship over collections of world-wide significance to benefit University of Illinois students, faculty, Illinois residents, as well as a national and international body of researchers.  As such, the Division supports the subject and format specializations of other University of Illinois departmental libraries and bibliographers.

  1. The Division will have the necessary staff expertise and sufficient infrastructure support to provide professional curatorship of these research collections, use of technology, and establishment of administrative and intellectual control over new incoming materials.
  2. The Division will have the infrastructure to deliver collection content both electronically andin situ, and we will have the kind of space that permits not just storage and display of the collections but active involvement with students and faculty through seminar rooms, comfortable and secure study areas, and auditoria.
  3. We will have an appropriate architectural embodiment of a teaching, research, and curatorial Center for Special Collections so that we can acquire, preserve, and ensure the accessibility of extensive, world-renowned collections.  The building should be a campus landmark both architecturally but more importantly it should be at the University’s research and teaching heart.
  4. We imagine being able to provide personalized access to comprehensive materials for faculty, students, scholars, and an engaged public by bringing together the Library’s most significant primary research collections.  We will offer diverse and intensive research resources though a single service location.
  5. The Division is interested in engaging undergraduate and graduate students in the use of primary sources for their curricular work.  We will be positioned to provide them access, both actual and “virtual,” to a wide range of original source materials, including rare books, archival records, manuscripts, musical materials, literary and personal papers, maps, prints, photographs, and selected supporting artifacts.
  6. The large processing and access backlogs will be greatly reduced to make our rich collections more findable and usable through new and diverse access mechanisms, and we will have achieved effective control over the electronic records and electronically created materials pertinent to our collections’ scope.
  7. We will deliver collection content digitally whenever possible in response to local and off-site requests for reference or research in our special collections to the extent allowed by technical and staff resources, physical condition of original items, and international intellectual property limits.
  8. We will emphasize the use of collaborative relations (with other Library collection and technical units, with other campus collections, with campus and university administrative offices) to capture, manage, and make accessible collections and cultural resources in response to the interdisciplinary instructional, research, and service needs of campus and external constituencies.  We will engage also in collaboration with international disciplinary centers with long-standing, or quasi-entitled, interests in University of Illinois Library special collections, and we will use collaboration to develop public programming to highlight our collections.
  9. We will exercise an important role in contributing to the training, research, and professional development of professionals in special collections librarianship and archival studies by linkages with the UIUC GSLIS and educational programs at other institutions and agencies.