A wonderful collaboration

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"A wonderful collaboration" sums up how Jackie Dooley, OCLC Research Program Officer, told me she feels about the process and outcomes of a new report, Survey of Special Collections and Archives in the United Kingdom and Ireland, published jointly by OCLC Research and Research Libraries UK (RLUK).

The 259-page report, written by Jackie and a team of RLUK-recruited experts--Rachel Beckett, Alison Cullingford, Katie Sambrook, Chris Sheppard and Sue Worrall--makes a strong case for transforming special collections, including a set of 20 recommendations they believe will help address the key findings. The executive summary and recommendations are published in the main report and as a separate document.

Jackie explained that the project closely parallels an earlier special collections survey she led in 2010. Taking Our Pulse: The OCLC Research Survey of Special Collections and Archives (PDF) gave a similar, evidence-based review of the state of special collections in the U.S. and Canada. The survey instrument used in the new report is based on the one used earlier, with variations to accommodate both terminological differences and issues of particular interest for the UK and Ireland. To accommodate RLUK's desire to compare the state of its members' special collections with those of ARL libraries in the US and Canada, the current report includes a detailed comparison between the two.

Taken together, the reports establish a baseline for comparing practices in the US and Canada with those used in the UK and Ireland. This baseline also provides a starting point for later collaboration based on shared strengths.

Jackie shared that these reports are a familiar, personal endeavor--her entire career (30+ years and counting) has been spent working with archives and special collections in research libraries. She notes that OCLC Research and RLUK plan to pursue further collaborations--not only related to special collections, but in other areas of mutual interest.

Brad Gauder
OCLC Editor

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