In the Special Collections Research Center, we acquire and build unique collections that document historical and contemporary aspects of fields of study that are strengths for NC State University so that researchers will be able to find and use them now and in the future. To preserve these valuable collections, we store them carefully, using acid-free materials and in climate-controlled buildings. In order for people to find and use these collections, we organize them, describe them, and publish those descriptions on the worldwide web.
Descriptions are the first step in making collections usable for researchers. They are the maps that lead researchers to the materials of interest to them. Organizing and rehousing also help to make collections usable. Some collections come to us well-organized and clearly labeled. These were often taken right out of filing cabinets, packed in boxes, and shipped to us. Other collections have traveled convoluted paths to reach us, paths that may have involved being packed up quickly for a move, being packed by relatives or friends of the collection creators, being shifted from one kind of box to another so that similar records don’t stay together, or being stored for some time in attics or basements.
One of the satisfactions of archival processing work, the work of organizing, rehousing and describing collections for research use, is seeing the visible difference that is made when collections are organized and rehoused. A collection stored in acid-free boxes and folders, neatly labeled, and described on the web is much more user-friendly than a disorganized box or collection. We haven’t yet processed all of our boxes, but our goal is to make all of our collections very user-friendly!
To learn more about our collections, please consult our collection guides.