Working with special collections

Because CCM Tools can help you to assess the relative scarcity of items in your collections more quickly, find the proximity of other copies in the UK, and get an overview of whose retention policies you might need to take into account, they can be used to support policy decisions about what materials to include in special collections, and what materials to prioritise for preservation or digitisation.

The procedures outlined below are suggestions only, and do not define everything that can be done with the Tools. Experimentation may help you to discover better ways of obtaining the data you need.

Defining special collections

'Copac data indicated 28% of our collection appears to be unique to the UK. This went down extremely well, and indicated the need for us to take the next steps in preserving this material in an appropriate environment'

University of Edinburgh

CCM Tools can help you to make decisions about what materials you should include in special collections, by building up a picture of their rarity at a national level.

Steps to achieve this might include:

  1. Identifying the relevant records in your LMS and exporting a file of ISBNs or - if you are a Copac contributor - local record numbers, and using these to run a batch search
  2. Using the 'holding libraries' filter to look at items held by a set number of libraries (3 or fewer, for instance). You can apply this filter before or after you have run your search, and update it at any time
  3. Using the 'No. of records held by no. of holding libraries' visualisation to get a quick overview of the relative scarcity (or vice-versa) of the collection as whole
  4. Using 'Records by no. of libraries' visualisation (if you have performed a number search) to identify particularly scarce or common items
  5. Using the 'Item holdings data' export to analyse the situation for particular titles in your own system
  6. Cross-referencing your results against information such as the retention policies for other holding libraries, to make final decisions about classification and preservation

Note that if you do not contribute your records to Copac and you wish to look at a specific set of titles (for which a keyword search would not be sufficient) you could export a set of records from your LMS in MARC exchange format (maximum file size: 10 mb) and use these to run a batch search. They will be deduplicated against the existing records in the database, allowing you continue following the steps above.

Note also that the deduplication procedure in Copac is not perfect, so you may wish to conduct further investigations once you have used CCM Tools to identify key titles for analysis.

You can read about how the University of Edinburgh did this here.

You can also see some slides from a presentation about how Newcastle University Library Special Collections used the Tools here.

Assessing material for preservation or digitisation

'Being able to see a visualisation of the holdings for a specific title is great - really quick and easy.'

University of Leeds

The Tools can also help you to prioritise individual items from your collections for conservation work or digitisation.

A suggested workflow might involve:

  1. Using the standard number search or keyword search to assess the rarity of items which are discovered to need conservation work, or are being considered for digitisation, on an individual basis
  2. Using the results of a batch search to rank items according to their rarity, where an entire collection is in need of conservation work
  3. Incorporating a search of CCM Tools into the routine workflow for staff when assessing items that have been flagged for conservation work
  4. Following up your searches in CCM Tools by checking the retention policies of other libraries which hold rare items, or by exporting your results and combining them with other local data, in order to facilitate decision making

You can find an example of how the University of Leeds did this here.

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