Written by Kate Arnold-Forster, Head of the University Museums & Special Collections Service
Welcome to the launch of our Special Collections blog, the beginning of a new University Museums and Special Collections Services (UMASCS) venture, although an idea that we have been contemplating for a while. Our hope is that this blog will help provide new insights into the extraordinary range and depth of the University of Reading’s archives and library collections and explain how our activities and services aim to improve their accessibility and increasingly extend and promote their use.
It is hard to sum up the diversity of what we hold, although a brief wander among our book stacks provides an eclectic glimpse of anything from tractor manuals to nearly 500 different editions of Samuel Beckett’s work, alongside the 4,000 books of the Mark Longman Library on book and publishing history and the archives of biscuit company Huntley and Palmers. We are also home to internationally important archive holdings, including two Designated collections, the Archive of British Publishing and Printing History and the Samuel Beckett Archive.
Our aim is to share the writing of this blog (at least initially) among UMASCS staff. Over the coming months, this will help us introduce not only our collections but also ourselves and our work as well as explain what we do ‘behind the scenes’. But we also intend the blog to offer updates and more detailed reports on the various projects that underpin many of our activities – some directly linked to supporting new research, often involving close collaboration with researchers, while others focusing on collections development that continues to build our capacity to extend new knowledge of our collections in the digital age.