Where to begin…

Welcome to the new Special Collections blog, from the University of Kent Special Collections team.

Having worked in Special Collections for a few months, now, it’s hard to know where to begin. But, as ever, the best place to start is at the beginning.

Special Collections aka Rare Books aka Specialist Collections and Academic Archives has a long history at the University. Librarians have come and gone, leaving monumental collections and card catalogues in their wake. At present, we have a variety of collections and plenty left to catalogue. Most of the cataloguing of collections in the recent past has been undertaken as part of projects, such as the digitisation and cataloguing of the Muggeridge Windmill Collections, which was completed at the end of 2009 as part of the VERDI project. However, we continue to add to the accessible items in a small way on a day-to-day basis. Work is continuing on the Hewlett Johnson Collection, the theatre and cinema programmes of the Bigwood Collection and on the Weatherill Collection.

The first months of 2010 have seen some significant changes for our small department. Firstly, Mrs Sue Crabtree, Special Collections Librarian, retired in December after long service to the Collections. Somehow we have managed to carry on, although many of her webpages have been vital in providing information that you will find on the new website. Secondly, we have a new Special Collections website. This has been a huge amount of work, combining the project to update the Library’s websites with the VERDI project, which has resulted in the searchable catalogue of our collections which you see today.

The Special Collections reading room has also had a bit of a face lift, with a spring clean and the delivery of comfortable (and matching) blue chairs that have been very popular with researchers and staff members alike! With the new layout and the appointment of Steve Holland as Head of Specialist Collections and Academic Archives, 2010 is looking to be a year of continuing changes for the department.

We aim to continue to offer an accessible and helpful service for all researchers to use our collections. If you would like to explore the collections, please take a look at the website. Email specialcollections@kent.ac.uk to make an appointment, and have a look at the access and opening hours before you come, to make the most out of your visit. If you are unable to visit in person but would like access to items from the collections, please email us and we can consider the provision of electronic or paper copies for your requirements.

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