Special Collections: What are They For?
By Rachel Friedman, MMLIS, University Librarian
It must have come as something of a surprise to many patrons that certain library sections are off limits to them or could only be made available by scheduling an appointment. As enthusiastic as library staff members are to receive patrons, this restriction is a key component of almost every library policy. So, why, I’m sure people ask, are some things locked up?
The fact is books and forms of media can actually be rare or valuable. While we do trust our patrons on general principle, it is always best to lower the risk of accidents. Just think of all of the possibilities and you’ll understand why we feel compelled to take extra precautions. After all, we do have restricted budgets- and there may be a very limited number of existing copies.
We do have a special collection here at AUHS, even if it is comparatively small. It contains such classics as an older copy of Gray’s Anatomy and the CIBA Collection of Medical Illustrations, volumes five and seven. While certainly not current, they do come with some fascinating images and insights. We hope that these may be of some use to you.