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Hidden collections in archives and libraries

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Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to synthesize different research projects and approaches to managing the "hidden collections" problem. Design/methodology/approach - The paper describes current research and practices. Findings - Hidden collections are a problem for both libraries and archives. "Hidden collections" are materials that cannot be found in the online catalog or may be found there only under a collective title or un- or under-processed primary sources. These materials transcend all formats of library and archival materials (print, microform, video, etc.) and can be found throughout the library in a variety of collections from government documents to area studies to music to the reference department. It is in the area of archival and special collections, however, that this problem has received the most attention and where the greatest challenges and opportunities for exposing these collections exist. Practical implications - Many archives have backlogs and "hidden collections". This article discusses some recent efforts to identify and expose these collections to enable better archival control and researcher access that may be applied in other settings. Originality/value - This article identifies and highlights different approaches and potential solutions to the problem of hidden collections.
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Keywords: Collections Management; Information Management; Information Retrieval; Libraries; United States of America

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2005

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