Can You Handle It? Using Special Collections in Research

Here’s a summary of some lessons from Can You Handle It – a libraries and special collections training event I helped to organise in May. Do not fear the libraries!


This guest blog comes from Jill Dye and Erin Farley, who co-organised a SGSAH-funded workshop on using Special Collections material for research.

Held in Dundee in May, this SGSAH-funded event was organised out of a discussion with fellow PhD researchers about “library anxiety”. Usually a term used in undergraduate, FE and public library provisions, it describes the fear of entering a library space. While PhD students are by now well acquainted with their own libraries, the PhD process takes many of us into various rare book and archival depositories, sometimes for the first time. This event intended to equip attendees with the skills and knowledge to defeat any such “library anxiety” by confronting the alien world of the reading room as well as talking, literally, about how to handle those documents. Not only would this lead to happier researchers, approaching material in a variety of repositories confidently and efficiently, but…

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