What are Special Collections?
The term “special collections” can be used to refer both to the Library and its contents. The material housed at Cushing Memorial Library constitutes gatherings of material which, for various reasons, require particular care and treatment. The books and manuscripts found in the special collections may have been placed here because of their value, rarity, fragility, or susceptibility to injury. These are frequently volumes which need careful attention in their treatment and use in order to ensure that they will be available for future generations of Aggies. In Cushing Library, environmental controls help to prevent the potential damage to paper or to book structures which can be caused by shifts in temperature and humidity or outside contaminants; our security helps to prevent damage or loss in the use of the collections, helping patrons use the books and archives in an attentive manner.
Some patrons wonder why books which don't seem to fit this description might also be housed in special collections. A pulp magazine found in the Science Fiction Research Collection, for example, might seem neither rare nor especially valuable. But another reason that material is placed in Cushing Library is to broaden a collection of similar items, providing researchers with a more complete range of ideas and material objects from which to pursue their studies.
Items from these collections can be requested and viewed in the Kelsey Reading Room.