New Roles for Special Collections on the Network

Peter S. Graham

Abstract

There will be no special collections on the network in the traditional sense because electronic information is not maintained in artifacts. Special collections have existed to support preservation of the human record as instanced in original documents or in specific documents of importance. Electronic documents, however, do not depend on their physical medium for their importance, nor does their medium provide evidence that assists in better understanding their texts. Special collections will continue in importance because of the continuing importance of artifactual documents. Special collections librarians may have new and distinctive roles in the electronic environment, particularly with respect to intellectual property and in the merging of special and general digital collections.

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