Special Collections: delivering tailored services

Materials set out for consultation in the Reading Room

The Special Collections team in the General Library is all set to help clients make good use of the fine arts, architecture, planning and music collections that have recently come under the repository’s care.

Already home to the University’s largest concentration of manuscripts, archives and rare books, the Special Collections umbrella now also covers:

  • Artists’ Books
  • Fine Arts and Architecture Archives
  • New Zealand Art Ephemera Collection (artist and gallery files)
  • Sheppard Collection
  • Measured Drawings
  • Architecture Folio Collection
  • Architecture Historical Collection
  • Music Glass Case (rare music scores and books)
  • LPs and some CDs from the old Listening Room.

With collections that span most disciplines, we provide services to students and staff from many faculties. Our unique and rare material also regularly attracts enquiries and researchers from overseas and around the country.

Special Collections on Level G

We are open Monday-Friday on Level G of the General Library. Clients can access material in the Reading Room from 12noon-5pm. Assistance is provided at the counter from 9am-12noon. Note: access to Architecture Archive material is provided elsewhere, by appointment.

The Reading Room facilities include:

  • Staff on hand to assist
  • Computer station
  • AV station for playing LPs, CDs, cassettes and video
  • Lightboxes

We also provide copying services, microtexts support, and more.

Work with academics and students

We work directly with academics and students and in collaboration with other Libraries and Learning Services – Te Tumu Herenga staff, including Academic Engagement, Research Services, Learning and Teaching Development, and other Cultural Collections teams.

“The work we do is really wide-ranging and there’s always something interesting happening,” says Special Collections Team Leader Nigel Bond. “We are incredibly lucky to be kaitiaki of these amazing collections and to play a part in helping people with their learning, teaching and research. In any one day, we can be handling research enquiries, suggesting search strategies, retrieving items for clients, caring for the collections to make sure they are around for future generations, arranging and describing archives, and mounting displays,” he says.

Another key activity is hosting teaching sessions in the Reading Room, so we are keen to welcome new classes, including those previously held elsewhere for Architecture and Planning.

Materials set out in the Reading Room for a teaching session

We have found that students enjoy these opportunities to examine original, rare and sometimes centuries-old items and always come away with new insights. “An object-based learning approach which is built around shared, tactile experiences, can really help students develop their observational skills, subject knowledge and critical thinking,” Nigel Bond says.

We also support academics by helping identify relevant material for classes (and coursework), giving tailored talks about the collections, and facilitating specific sessions, including on archival literacy.

For all enquiries, please email us:  specialcollections@auckland.ac.nz.

Special Collections, Te Herenga Mātauranga Whānui