from the director
Richard V. Szary
Special collections occupy a unique position in academic research libraries, offering rich resources for a broad range of research, teaching, and learning. Far from being antiquarian curiosities or treasures, the archives, manuscripts, rare books, photographs, maps, recordings, moving images, and other special collections held in the Wilson Special Collections Library provide an essential foundation for active scholarly and general inquiry into historical and contemporary issues. They also have a vital teaching role, giving students the opportunity to learn how to navigate and interpret the unruly and ambiguous past, as reflected in first-hand documentation from its creators and witnesses. As part of a public institution supported by the citizens of North Carolina, the Wilson Library also recognizes and embraces its role as a resource for the state, documenting its history and providing the resources needed to study, appreciate, and understand it.
The five constituent collections of the Wilson Library all offer exciting opportunities for the seasoned scholar, the beginning student, and the interested public. With collections from the University, the state of North Carolina, the American South, and the world, there are few aspects of human endeavor that the Wilson collections cannot provide insight into. All forms of material—from clay tablets to digital files, from printed incunabula to recent state publications, from manuscript letters to email correspondence, from daguerreotypes to digital photographs, and from wax cylinders to CDs—are represented in the Wilson collections. The Wilson staff provide in-person and remote assistance in identifying materials of interest to users and in making effective use of them.
Our challenges and opportunities—as for all special collections—are to continue to build rich collections and to ensure that they endure and are accessible to all who wish to use them. In addition to our traditional pursuits, this requires acquiring, preserving, and providing access to new forms and formats of materials; understanding and engaging with changing teaching and research methodologies; appreciating and meeting expectations and preferences for convenience and availability of information and collections; and responding to evolving ways that our patrons want to use collections and information. It's an exciting and challenging time for special collections and all of us in the Wilson Library are committed to providing the collection resources and services that our constituents need and expect from a world-class repository.
We always welcome your questions, your comments about how well we are meeting your needs and expectations, and your suggestions for enhancing our collections and services. I encourage you to contact me or any of the Wilson staff to share your thoughts and ideas.
I trust that the time you spend with the collections and people here at the Wilson will be both productive and enjoyable, and hope that you will visit us—in person or online—often.
Richard V. Szary
Director, The Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library, and
Associate University Librarian for Special Collections