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IFLA Competency Guidelines for Rare Books and Special Collections Professionals

“Libraries are the guardians of cultural memory and the preservers of cultural heritage. Libraries are also the catalysts for cultural change. Within larger libraries and as stand-alone repositories, special collections libraries are the specific sites where documentary and cultural heritage is preserved. Not only the information content of these handwritten works, printed texts, works on paper, audio-visual materials and artifacts deserves preservation, but also the objects themselves because of their historical and cultural significance. It is these collections that lie at the core of special collections librarianship. The collections mentioned in this document refer to the various cultural objects collected by libraries and institutions, regardless of format.




This document outlines the competencies that were developed as a guide for all library professionals who work with special collections materials, both analog and digital.


These guidelines provide direction and focus for special collections professionals to facilitate their own career development, as well as to manage their special collections in line with their institutional policies and user needs.


It is hoped that the guidelines can serve as a basis on which training programs can be developed to ensure special collections professionals develop core competencies relevant to their continuing professional development. The document also delineates the ethical framework within which special collections professionals are to perform their professional duties to uphold their positions as the trusted stewards of cultural heritage materials.” (p.3)