In the Hurricane's Eye: Challenges of Collecting in the 21st Century

The 52nd Annual Preconference of the Rare Books and Manuscripts
Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries

Baton Rouge, Louisiana Tuesday June 21 - Friday June 24, 2011

We look forward to seeing you at RBMS in Baton Rouge!




In the last several years special collections and archives have assumed a new and more prominent role within our larger host institutions as well as in the wider library community. Once perceived as peripheral to core library services, our collections are now viewed as central. Despite – or perhaps because of – this centrality, we face a perfect storm of increasing needs in a time of decreasing support. How can we keep building and providing effective access to collections that will remain central in the future, fulfilling our obligation to provide stewardship of the cultural record?

While we continue to collect a multiplicity of formats from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries – with the attendant issues of physical storage space, preservation, and access – the twenty-first century offers a new set of evolving challenges. Demographics in the United States and elsewhere are shifting dramatically, and human use of digital technologies is changing what makes up the historical record, in both format and content. How do we capture records of the evanescent “now” without abandoning the documentation needs of the recent past?

Engaging attendees using a variety of session formats, the 2011 Preconference will present current work in the profession, both theoretical and practical, that can be used for modeling possible solutions to such challenges. The spectrum of issues that we will consider includes negotiating collection development for digital collections, collecting across cultural divides, generating buy-in and support from our proliferating audiences, and considering how “uniqueness” and artifactual value will change in an age of born-digital objects.


Banner graphic image of Hurricane Ivan, 2004, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
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