Several of the digital collections listed here are the work of "community archives" or "counter-archives", which is to say archives begun and operated outside a traditional, institutional setting.
Many of the collections in this section are archives (mostly organizational or personal archives) that have been microfilmed. You will be meeting with somebody from the University Archives after today's session, and that person will go into greater detail on archival organization. For more on archives, see the section below on Special Collections
Special collections bring together documents that share some common characteristic, such as rarity, format, subject, or provenance. Rare book libraries and archives are two common types of special collections.
Rare book libraries usually collect published sources, but may also collect manuscripts and other unpublished sources, especially literary manuscripts and manuscripts that relate to the library's rare book collections. Rare book libraries are usually organized like other libraries described in this guide, and are often attached to a research or academic library.
Archives, on the other hand, are organized quite differently than libraries. This difference is due to several factors, including the following:
Unlike library collections, which are organized by subject, archival collections are organized by provenance, and to whatever extent possible the archive will attempt "to maintain the integrity of records in relation to their documentary, provenancial, functional, and jurisdictional contexts",1 by ensuring that the documents remain organized the way they were organized at the time of their creation, or the time of their accession into the archive.
Other types of documents found in special collections include "maps, games, original works of art, realia (nonbook objects, such as furniture, weaponry, or locks of hair), textiles, audiovisual materials, and digital materials".2
Some examples of special collections at the University of Illinois Library:
Archives within traveling distance:
1. Joanne Evans, Sue McKemmish, and Barbara Reed, "Archival Arrangement and Description," in Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, 4th ed., ed. John D. McDonald and Michael Levine-Clark (Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2017), 118.
2. Lynne M. Thomas, "Special Collections," in Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, 4th ed., ed. John D. McDonald and Michael Levine-Clark (Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2017), 4335.