Special Collections libraries and librarians have increasingly strived to provide more access and openness to their collections and services. However, not all students have received the message. If “perception is reality” we need to change the perception of research libraries as an intimidating place, even when we believe we are welcoming to all. Kenneth Spencer Research Library, the rare books and manuscripts library of the University of Kansas, adopted two major initiatives during the summer with the express purpose of making our library more welcoming and accessible. Spencer Library staff has worked hard over the years to engage with faculty and students and promote use of our collections. As the number of class requests increase, we are making progress but still encounter assumptions that students will not be welcomed and it will be a confusing and intimidating process. In addition to bringing students into the building, we must show them once they arrive that we are a modern facility, even if our collections are historical. A warm, welcoming presence and an efficient mode of operation can go a long way toward getting students to give you the benefit of the doubt as you show them how special collections can inform their own research.
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"Welcoming Undergraduates to Special Collections,"
Kansas Library Association College and University Libraries Section Proceedings: