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Duties and Expectations of Special Collections Workers

What do we do in Special Collections?

Berea College’s Hutchins Library possesses unusual strengths in the area of special collections, rare books, archives, and manuscripts. These materials are housed in the Special Collections & Archives department of the library. Because of the unique and irreplaceable nature of many of these materials, they must be used under close supervision and are subject to certain restrictions.

Statement of Purpose

The Special Collections & Archives department of Hutchins Library plays an important role in support of Berea College’s mission and program. The College’s goals and commitments are reflected in the historical records and in published works preserved by the department. The Library’s archives, special collections, and rare books assist the College in providing exceptionally strong liberal arts education. Specifically, the collections provide a unique opportunity for students to use primary source materials and to study Appalachian culture, the history of the College, and important works of Western culture. In addition, the Weatherford-Hammond Mountain Collection – the oldest and one of the largest research collections on the subject – stimulates and promotes scholarship of the region. Because there is no historical society in Berea, the College’s Special Collections & Archives also has a role as preserver of local history. In a more general way, the department is part of a national network of libraries and repositories responsible for the preservation of the historical and cultural records of civilization.

Recognizing the importance of documenting the history of Berea College and the region which it serves, it is the primary purpose of the archives to collect, preserve, and organize archival and manuscript material relating to the history of the College, the Berea Community, and the Southern Appalachian region. A secondary purpose of the archives is to collect and preserve other selected and historical collections. There are four book collections in the department: Mountain, Berea, Lincoln, and Curio; the department also houses five archival divisions: Berea College Archives (BCA), Southern Appalachian Archives (SAA), Historical Collections (HC), Sound Archives, and Vertical Files. Other features of Berea College Special Collections & Archives include a Sound Preservation and Access Program, the Appalachian Sound Archives Fellowship Program, and the BEREApedia project.