Alison Cullingford. The Special Collections Handbook, Second Edition.

Keith Phelan Gorman


Alison Cullingford’s The Special Collections Handbook provides information specialists with a timely guide to managing the rapid and continuous changes buffeting today’s libraries, archives, and museums. First published in 2011 during the global recession, the book focuses on all aspects of special collections work. The work is informed by the ongoing political and economic uncertainties caused by budget cuts and austerity policies in the cultural heritage and education sectors. Since the book’s initial publication, information specialists have recognized the need to “tell their story” and demonstrate their value to parent organizations, donors, and community members. Advocacy and community engagement are now seen as being critical business functions. Indeed, Cullingford argues that librarians and archivists must adopt a new “mind-set” (along with skills and tools) if they are to be successful in the digital era. The revised and greatly expanded 2017 second edition of The Special Collections Handbook examines this new mentality and professional shift in priorities. According to the author, special collections specialists must embrace innovation, entrepreneurialism, and marketing to navigate the current turbulent information environment.

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