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Special Collections: Collections Policy for Special Collections

Describes Special Collections in the Archer Library including basic user information and information about its sub-collections.

Oversized Rare Books Are Laid Flat

Are Those Brown Spots On An Old Book Freckles?

Those brown spots on old books and newapapers are called "foxing" because they are the colour of a fox's hair. What causes them is still not exactly known. Some think they are caused by acid in the  paper . Others think it's a kind of fungus like mildew. You may notice that books with foxing have a bit of a mouldy odour. By the way, if you want to keep old books, it's best not to store them in the basement!

Collections Policy for Special Collections

I.              Introduction

This policy acts as a guide for Dr. John Archer Library & Archives (Library) staff and serves as a framework for collections development in special collections. The Collections Policy for Special Collections will be revised as needed by the Collection Development Librarian and, if needed, with assistance from the Collections and Assessment Team (CAT).  Refer to the University of Regina Library General Collections Policy that is here for information on the selection and withdrawal of materials in the Library’s collection. The Library supports the teaching, research, and curriculum development requirements of the University.


II.            General Guidelines

 The acquisition by purchase or donation of rare books and other materials is a fundamental part of the collections function of an academic library.  At the Library the mandate of Special Collections is, in part, to acquire rare materials, either through purchase or donation, to support the teaching and research needs of the academic program.  Special Collections seeks to develop specialist library resources that complement both the collection development activities of the Library and the scholarly objectives of the University community.  Special Collections has a secondary function which is to preserve for future researchers rare materials in a secure and environmentally friendly location.

Special Collecting is a unique activity in that it should be endeavour to be opportunistic in the trade market-place.  Materials that are rare, or have scholarly, aesthetic, or cultural value may be sought even though they may not have a clear fit to the collection as outlined in this Special Collections policy.  In this sense, a Special Collections policy must be unstructured enough to permit unusual or one-of-a-kind collections acquisitions should such items be offered or made available to the Library by book-sellers or donors.

In this respect special collecting differs from collections development in other areas of the Library. If an opportunity arises to acquire the rare works of a well-know writer for example the Special Collections Librarian may decide to purchase these materials even though they may be outside the parameters of the Special Collections policy. In addition, private collectors or antiquarian dealers may offer specialized items to the Library for purchase by as well.  The Library may decide to take advantage of such opportunities to acquire unusual items in order to build a valuable Special Collection. 


 III.           Collections Development in Special Collections

The primary responsibility for identifying and purchasing Special Collections resources lies with the Special Collections Librarian. Decisions to purchase materials that are very costly is determined by the Collection Development Librarian in consultation with CAT.  The location of donated materials in Special Collections is determined by the Collection Development Librarian in consultation with the donor and/or CAT.

The University’s Archives generally collects primary source materials. These include documents, university records, private papers, manuscripts, letters and diaries, photographs/pictures, realia and any other primary source items. Special Collections collects primary and secondary sources; printed books, pamphlets, serials, maps in books formats, media in various formats such as compact disc, VHS, and DVD. 

In the following guidelines the term "book" includes other forms of print media such a pamphlets, serials, folded maps enclosed in slipcases or any other kind of print material that is considered most appropriately housed in the Special Collections.  Materials for inclusion in Special Collections are determined by the Special Collections Librarian. The Special Collections Librarian may also consult with other library units and staff as well as with donors, book conservators, and antiquarian book specialists as a normal part of their professional activities. Other sources like WorldCat and AddAll may also be consulted. 

 3.1 Library materials acquired in Special Collections include:

  • Books published world-wide at any date
  • Books published in the historic area now known as Canada before 1867
  • Books published in, about, or by authors from the three Prairie Provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba) at any date
  • Books published by or about Indigenous people in Canada
  • Journals and newspapers of historic value
  • Historic or rare maps enclosed in slipcases, solander cases or published in association with a book or pamphlet
  • Books that have a significant monetary value. This refers particularly to rare books or out of print materials with a current market value in excess of $100
  • Print materials designated for closed stack protection and/or security (e.g. art materials printed in unusual formats) 
  • Theses produced at the University of Regina
  • Published materials relating to holdings in the University of Regina Archives

Rare books may include incunabula, first editions, limited editions, autographed or inscribed books, newspapers and journals of historic interest, materials with printing, binding or other aesthetic value, and noteworthy examples of printing presses. 

 IV.          Thematic Materials Acquired in Special Collections

In the past, collections development in Special Collections took place as a result of the acquistion of several significant collections that are described below. These sub-collections of Special Collections were acquired either through donation or purchase.  Due to the relative youth of the University and its library collections Special Collections has had a general, broad focus with several minor areas of collection development largely as a result of donations.  These areas of collection interest traditionally included Canadiana in English, prairie and ethnic history, printing and printing history, and religious texts.


4.1 Visual and fine arts in Saskatchewan

In Saskatchewan visual art and its artists have had and continue to have important educational and cultural connections to the University of Regina. The University Archives has collected the papers of local artists for a number of years. Special Collections now mirrors that collection by acquiring books, other printed materials and media formats by and about local artists and art movements that have significance to the University.


4.2 History and culture of southern Saskatchewan with particular focus on the history and culture of Regina and the communities surrounding Regina

The Library is also ideally situated in the province for collecting materials of local historical significance for the southern half of the province. Books, other print resources, and media about the history of Regina and its surrounding communities deserve to be collected systematically and preserved by the University. These materials provide historical documentation for scholars in a variety of subject areas especially scholars interested in local history and culture.


4.3 University of Regina authors

University of Regina writers include the works of faculty members, librarians and staff in the University community that have been published in North America or abroad.  Special Collections includes the published work of University faculty/librarians who are currently employed at the University, retired, or emeritus. It will not accept the published work of faculty after they have left the University of Regina for employment elsewhere.  Materials collected include materials authored or edited by faculty/librarians, chapters or essays written by faculty in materials authored by other writers, or materials with introductions or afterwords authored by faculty or librarians.  Also accepted are bound galleys or other unpublished writing that can be held in a binder.  Special Collections houses the archival copy of all dissertations written between 1966, when graduate programs were established at the University of Saskatchewan (Regina Campus) and 2012. Dissertations are now archived in oURspace, the University’s online repository.    


V.            Unique Collections in Special Collections

5.1 William S. Lloyd Collection of Robinson Crusoe

The collection originally belonged to William Supplee Lloyd, a Philadelphian textile manufacturer and book collector, who authored the bibliography " Catalogue of various editions of Robinson Crusoe and other books by and referring to Daniel Defoe (1915).  The collection contains 215 editions of Robinson Crusoe in 233 physical volumes. Most are labeled with the Lloyd bookplate.  The earliest dated edition is The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe  Glasgow:  James Duncan, 1735.  Editions of interest include versions of Robinson Crusoe published for young children in nursery rhyme with comic illustrations as well as a 1900 edition written in Pitman shorthand.  The collection was acquired by University of Regina President John Archer (1974-1976).


5.2 Wagner Collection

The Wagner Trust was established at the University of Regina to honour Professor Fred Wagner a faculty member in the Department of English. The collection's focus is Victorian literature and includes the original library of Professor Wagner. There are two smaller sub-collections in the Wagner collection that include the works by the 19th century British writers J H. (Joseph Henry) Shorthouse and Robert W. Buchanan.  The Wagner Trust allows the Library to continue collection development in the area of Victorian fiction.


5.3 Howard Collection

A collection of books donated to the Archer Library in 2010 by the late Dr. William Howard, professor in the English Dept at the University of Regina. Dr Howard was Acting University Librarian in 1998 and University Librarian from 2003-2006. The collection focuses on the Romantic Period of the late 18th century and the 19th century in British literature and includes many first editions.


5.4 Ethnic Collection

The Ethnic Collection has a variety of books that focuses on the ethnic diversity of the Canadian Prairies. It includes materials on the history and culture of the various ethnic groups that settled in the Western provinces during the late 19th and 20th centuries. Included are items concerning the Ukrainian, Mennonite, and Hutterite settlers in the West after their immigration to North America. Also included are books related to these communities and World War II. The collection was purchased by University Librarian Ernest Ingles (1984-1990).


5.5 Lewis Thomas Collection

The Thomas Collection was donated by the estate of the Canadian historian Lewis G. Thomas professor at the Universities of Regina and Alberta.  The focus of the collection is Canadian history particularly the exploration and settlement of the Canadian West and politics of the Prairie Provinces.  Most of the titles in the Thomas collection were published in the 20th century.


5.6 Eaton Collection

The Eaton Collection, acquired in the 1960's, is focused on printing, printers and the publishing trade. It consists of monographs, serials and a large number of printers' catalogues.  The collection includes 500 catalogues from antiquarian dealers such as Sotheby's, Maggs and Quaritch. In addition the collection has   several lengthy runs of annuals such as the Penrose Annual and British Printer.


April 20, 2007

Revised January 2010

Revised May 2011

Revised May 2014

Revised November 2021

Revised August 2023

Tools Used in Special Collections - Bleached Cotton Tape and Acid Free Envelopes

Stuff In Old Books

You often find things in old books like photos, bookmarks, pressed flowers and postcards. Even love letters! They can be useful for a rare book librarian in providing information about the book's past owners or in dating the book.  But these items are also very damaging to pages because of moisture or acids in the paper. If you discover these in your old books take them out and store them in another place.