“Hidden Collections, Scholarly Barriers: Creating Access to Unprocessed Special Collections Materials in America’s Research Libraries” by Barbara M. Jones

Hidden collections are common to all libraries, especially special collections libraries since adding to existing collections. This white paper discusses the finding of the ARL Special Collections Task Force’s survey and questions posed to special collections libraries. The paper beginnings with a list of concerns and problems faced when dealing with hidden collections. It presents issues that have a timely presence in discussion of library professionals.

The paper addresses access from different perspectives in order to determine some possible solutions to hidden collections such as backlogs. Various types of user services that promote a more diverse and wider user group are discussed and have examples. In addition, the paper presents ways of measuring the success of the services. One topic that permeates throughout the paper is collaboration.

Overall, this paper provides recommendations from the task force and the author. The last sections of the paper suggest the steps the task force to lessen the effects of hidden collections and to implement plans of processing and cataloging backlogs. The paper provides examples of handling hidden collections in different manner along with their effects. I think it is a useful source for understanding and working with hidden collections.

*Jones, Barbara M. “Hidden Collections, Scholarly Barriers: Creating Access to Unprocessed Special Collections Materials in America’s Research Libraries.” RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage (2002): 88-105.

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