2012 is looking scarily like 2011: once again, in April, I am building up to the challenge of writing a large and intensively researched document about Special Collections to a tight schedule.
Last year = The Special Collections Handbook.
This year = Unique and Distinctive Collections Project Report. The deadline for the first Report draft is mid-May.
The Report builds on the Handbook experience (especially literature searching) but is a very different piece of work and will be harder for me as a writer.
The Handbook was written top down: I wrote what I wanted to say and then found examples and quotations to bring it to life. The Report is bottom up: a mosaic of data, case studies, examples and ideas out of which recommendations will take shape.
The Handbook aims to help individual librarians understand and cope with the challenges of managing special collections. The Report is strategic, analysing the situation and recommending action at library, institution or national levels.
Above all, the Handbook is authored by me. I’m responsible for its content, along with my publisher. The Report will be written by me but must accommodate and encapsulate the views of the advisory group, the Board and RLUK. I need to work with the timetables and preferred working methods of these various stakeholders.
Of course, what really matters is that readers of both works learn something and take action as a result of reading them, whether practical improvements in day to day management from the Handbook or implementing recommendations from the Report. I hope that both in their different ways will help libraries and curators make the most of their wonderful collections and bring them to the wider audiences they deserve.