Glasgow University Library - Special Collections Department
Summary of Collection Development Policy
Glasgow University Library's Special Collections have been built up since the University's foundation in 1451 by purchase, gift and bequest. There are currently over 100 named collections, containing more than 200,000 manuscript items and around 200,000 printed works, of which a significant number are early imprints, including some 1,000 incunabula. Substantial collections of other media, such as photographs, music scores and ephemera, are also represented. The collections are described fully at: http://special.lib.gla.ac.uk/collection/index.html. Our collection development strategy concentrates on acquiring primary material to augment existing strengths, concentrating on building up those collections with holdings of either international importance or particular uniqueness; we also necessarily work within the framework of the overall library collection development policy in considering purchases of works and collections to support current teaching and research. We also aim to acquire selective secondary material if it both supports our collections and is out of scope of the subject collections. Transfers of existing material from other areas of the library are also considered on the basis of age, value and rarity, as well as suitablility in relation to existing Special Collections. All collection development is, however, subject to the constraints of space and a relatively small budget.
Areas where we aim to acquire extensively:
- Bissett & Broady Collections: Left Book Club editions, and West of Scotland/Glasgow left-wing, anarchist and nationalist imprints (pre-1945)
- Ferguson Collection: alchemy (until end of 18th century and selectively from 19th century), including peripheral areas such as witchcraft, Rosicrucianism, secrets and recipes, etc.
- Hunterian Collection: primarily anatomy, obstetrics and gynaecology, perinatal illness, infancy diseases (pre-1800); also pre-1800 material relating to Hunter's other interests, including coins, innoculation, botany, works of TS Bayer
- Kelvin Collection: manuscript and printed works relating to Lord Kelvin
- Laing Collection: all manuscript and printed works relating to R D Laing
- Morgan Papers: printed works of Edwin Morgan, especially first editions
- Murray and Wylie Collections: Glasgow imprints, local history (pre-1850), including children and school books; historical documents relating to Glasgow University (in liaison with Archives)
- Scottish Theatre Archive: all works relating to Scottish Theatre
- Stirling Maxwell Collection: emblem books and some related material such as fete books
- Tischendorf Collection: manuscripts and published works of Constantin Von Tischendorf
- Trotsky Collection: works of Trotsky (up to c.1980, plus selectively thereafter)
- Whistler Archive: books about Whistler, and selective purchases of manuscript material where price allows
We also aim to develop certain other collections on a far more selective basis, acquisitions being dependant upon their having a strong connection with existing holdings and upon reasonable prices. Subjects in this category include: architecture, Scottish artists' papers, bookkeeping/accounting (Scottish), works of Sir Thomas Browne, conchology, Dance of Death, Darien scheme, dictionaries, etching in Britain, works by Ian Hamilton Finlay, graphic art (up to end of 19th century), landscape gardening, bindings of Talwin Morris, music (of composers already represented), Scottish photography (19th century), Spanish Golden Age literature (especially plays), tea and coffee, and theology. Beyond these areas, very little is acquired (whether by purchase or donation) unless a very good case can be made for it by Special Collections staff.
Most Special Collectons material is catalogued and accessible worldwide on web-based catalogues. Records for printed works are found via the main library catalogue (http://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/search/) and records for manuscripts via the manuscripts catalogue (http://special.lib.gla.ac.uk/manuscripts/search/). Local handlists and/or databases exist for most collections not yet on these catalogues (e.g. ephemera collection, Scarfe-La Trobe Collection of Spanish Plays). The catalogued status of each collection is described in its collection description (at http://special.lib.gla.ac.uk/collection/index.html), along with details of any other finding aids available.
The budget for Special Collections purchases is limited to bequest funds (with a variable amount available for spending each year). For larger acquisitions, these funds are supplemented by applications to external bodies and charities such as the National Fund for Acquisitions (who typically provide matching funding when a strong case can be made for purchase), the National Art Collections Fund (NACF) and the Friends of Glasgow University Library.
Special Collections Department
Glasgow University Library