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Wednesday, November 7 • 5:45pm - 6:45pm
32 Spotlight your gems: Enhancing unique collections through discovery, access, and digital scholarship

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Showcasing a specialized, unique collection in a large, multifaceted library can present a number of challenges for the library staff. The necessities of discoverability, access, promotion, and curatorship require a strategic plan that will support and enhance the smaller collection, yet preserve its distinctive character. Librarians at a large state university in Maryland have met this particular challenge with practicality and creativity. This presentation's goal is to demonstrate how a library can apply this approach to highlight any collection embedded within a larger one.

When Towson University incorporated the programs and faculty of the small, private Baltimore Hebrew University, it also absorbed its library of more than 70,000 volumes into its own. The collection included monographs, periodicals, audio-visual materials, electronic resources, and a rare items collection, comprised of books, manuscripts, and artifacts. Absorbing an entire specialized library collection into a larger diverse one created an opportunity to develop a plan to curate and accentuate it.

The library staff approached this daunting task enthusiastically, employing several methods to manage, improve, and feature this collection. Mindful of both current and potential end users, the staff has taken great care to emphasize discovery and accessibility. The collection provides curriculum support for students and offers extensive research opportunities for faculty and members of the academic community at large. Collaboration with other entities, digital scholarship, and library outreach are important realities for this collection, and each of these has expanded its reach.

This presentation will demonstrate that by focusing on its distinctive content and potential value as a research goldmine, a library can increase a collection’s worth to a wide range of users. It will also provide other library professionals in both academic and public arenas with practical suggestions they can apply to other unique collections found within their own libraries.


Elaine Mael

Cataloging Librarian, Towson University

Wednesday November 7, 2018 5:45pm - 6:45pm EST
Carolina Ballroom, Francis Marion Hotel