Rare Book School

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L-10. Special Collections Librarianship

Alice Schreyer

This course is an introduction to the principles and practice of special collections librarianship. The goal is to provide students with an understanding of the concept, role and organizational development of special collections; current issues, standards and best practices; and expertise and skills needed by special collections professionals. Factors contributing to the recognition of special collections as the “defining characteristic” of the research library, and the challenges of rising expectations and new responsibilities, will be considered. Topics to be covered include developing physical and digital collections; access and preservation; exhibitions, outreach and instruction; physical facilities and security; ethics and donor relations; collaborations and partnerships.

The course is designed for those with an interest in special collections librarianship but no prior formal coursework, and beginners are welcome.

In their personal statements, applicants should describe any relevant training, education and experience; and how the course fits into current responsibilities and career goals.

Course Resources

Course History


This course is renamed “Special Collections Librarianship.”


Susan M. Allen teaches this course in 2009.


Alice Schreyer teaches this course for the first time.


Daniel Traister teaches this course annually in this period.