SPECIAL IS AS SPECIAL DOES

Richard W. Oram

Abstract

Nothing is very special in the least about special collections unless they are made meaningful. The meaning derives from the interaction of the artifact and the individual mind and heart; Rachel Howarth, in a companion piece to this one, has provided many examples of such encounters. Quite simply, the manuscripts, books, maps, photographs, and other formats in our charge are significant only to the extent that they serve us and, more important, our patrons. Thus, special is as special does.


In the past fifty years, we have seen special collections evolve radically, from the prewar treasure room to the rare . . .

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