L-60v. Introduction to Archives for Special Collections Librarians, Booksellers & Collectors

Lisa Conathan Bill Landis

Course Length: 22 hours
Course Week: 24–29 July 2022
Format: online only
Fee: $1,000

Libraries with special collections increasingly collect, curate, and service many forms of rare and archival materials within one integrated environment. Managers, curators, catalogers, and reference librarians whose education and experience have focused on published materials must therefore be conversant with archival techniques and issues. Similarly, booksellers and collectors commonly find themselves handling material that may best be managed using archival principles. This course, intended for those without significant archival education or experience, will explore archival approaches to appraisal, acquisition, description, and access to personal papers and organizational records. Challenges associated with digitization and born-digital materials will be addressed. Aspects of professional culture, terminology, education and history will be compared to those of rare book librarianship. The course will include lectures, readings, discussion, and practical exercises, including an introduction to ArchivesSpace, a commonly used archival management platform built on archival principles. The course also draws heavily on examples from special collections at Williams College and Yale University, the environments with which the instructors are most familiar. The use of ArchivesSpace and site-specific examples is not intended to be prescriptive.

In their personal statements, applicants should describe their professional education, work experience, engagement with archives, collecting experience, and any topics they would particularly like to address in the course. The course will be taught remotely over Zoom, and several exercises require the use of a computer.

Course History

Lisa Conathan & Bill Landis co-teach this course online (22 hours) as "Introduction to Archives for Special Collections Librarians, Booksellers & Collectors."
Jackie Dooley & Bill Landis co-teach this course as “Introduction to Archives for Special Collections Librarians.”
Jackie Dooley & Bill Landis co-teach this course as “Introduction to Archives for Rare Book Librarians.”

Course Resources

  • Advance Reading List
  • Evaluations for this course:

Related Courses


  • Lisa Conathan
  • Bill Landis

Lisa Conathan

Lisa Conathan is Head of Special Collections at Williams College, overseeing the Chapin Library of Rare Books and the College Archives. Before joining Williams, she worked at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, as Archivist and Head of Digital Services. Lisa’s research interests center on the creation and reuse of endangered language documentation, focusing on vernacular literacy and oral discourse in Native North America. She holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of California, Berkeley, and an M.L.S. from the University of Maryland.

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Bill Landis

Bill Landis is Associate Director for Public Services in Manuscripts & Archives, a department of the Yale University Library. His professional interests and experiences are in archives and digital libraries, especially relating to metadata and descriptive standards, access issues, and outreach and teaching with special collections. He is an active member and Fellow of the Society of American Archivists, for many years taught an introductory workshop on Describing Archives: A Content Standard for that organization, and recently completed a term as an elected member of its governing council. He recently co-chaired a joint task force (with the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College & Research Libraries) responsible for creating the Guidelines for Primary Source Literacy, and served for two years as the inaugural editor of the SAA’s ePublication Case Studies on Teaching With Primary Sources

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