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Grumpy Librarian writes "Interesting Special Effects Column, by Scott Carlson, over on the Chronicle Of Higher Ed. Though you'll need a subscription to read the article, it's work tracking down. Carlson says growing number of librarians who are trying to turn their library's rare holdings into promotional and marketing tools for their institutions, and for traditional research methods. Special collections, librarians say, can help charm tech-obsessed undergraduates into a love affair with old-fashioned books, and with the library as a whole.
Because more and more mainstream library materials -- books and journals -- are becoming available to everyone online through mass-digitization projects, many librarians say special collections will be increasingly important in distinguishing even small college libraries."From my perspective, special collections are what make the reputation of a library," says Nicholas C. Burckel, dean of libraries at Marquette University, which has built celebrity through owning the papers of J.R.R. Tolkien, among other items. "The issue will be not how many volumes you have in the library," he says, "but what you have that contributes to a national documentation strategy."
As evidence of their growing importance, special collections are moving from library basements and back rooms to main floors and entrance areas."