OCLC Research and Research Libraries UK (RLUK) collaborated to survey library special collections holdings and practices of RLUK members and OCLC Research Library Partnership institutions in the UK and Ireland.

This activity builds upon OCLC Research's work with a similar survey of special collections and archives in the US and Canada in 2009. The population for this survey included members of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL); Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL); Independent Research Libraries Association (IRLA); Oberlin Group; and the RLG Partnership (U.S. and Canada). The results of this survey were published in the report, Taking Our Pulse: The OCLC Research Survey of Special Collections and Archives (.pdf: 1.5MB/153 pp.)


The distinction that special collections bring to research institutions has become widely recognized, and an aggregated profile of collections, access policies, users, adoption of new technologies, and other important topics will establish norms across the UK special collections community. The data will effectively support decision-making for strategic priorities and collaborative projects. Individual libraries will be able to place themselves in the context of community norms and consider taking appropriate actions in response.


The survey population included all RLUK members, as well as OCLC Research Library Partnership institutions in the UK and Ireland. The project fits comfortably into RLUK's current strategic priorities, which include a strand, Unique and Distinctive Collections, which focuses on maximizing the potential of special collections.

OCLC Research managed the distribution and analysis of the survey. The RLUK executive office and selected members of the RLUK board led the communications with RLUK members. A committee of member representatives assisted OCLC Research staff with amendments to the survey instrument, queries from respondents, and writing the report. RLUK will utilize the survey results in developing specific strands of its program for Unique and Distinctive Collections. Members of RLUK will be able to place themselves within the context of survey norms for purposes of local decision-making.

The survey was distributed to participating libraries in August 2011 and closed in September 2011.

Related Work


Report: Survey of Special Collections and Archives in the UK and Ireland


Most recent updates: Page content: 2013-02-13