The department provides a framework for the interconnection between UNE’s internal and external interests. As an integral part of the University of New England Library Services and an active partner in the educational work of the University, the Department of Special Collections preserves and makes accessible thousands of books, manuscripts, photographs and artifacts that illuminate and reinforce the history of UNE within its local community and the State of Maine.
A well-developed special collections program not only contributes to the educational value of an institution, but can also directly enrich and influence curricula.
These Special Collections provide two major functions for the University:
- Historic preservation of vital historic collections relating to its history and special interests, and
- Sites for educational outreach—such as exhibitions and lectures or presentations—into the surrounding community.
The programs and exhibitions prepared by this department bring UNE’s educational mission to public audiences whether they are presented collaboratively on UNE's campuses or at other institutions, meetings, or conferences.
The Department is actively acquiring important new collections: in 2010 UNE celebrated acquisition of the Randall Cushing Collection of World War II Letters. This collection is now accessible to students, faculty and the public in the Bush Center on the Biddeford Campus.
As academic institutions utilize electronic formats for many of their collections, special collections increasingly define these institutions’ unique and distinguishing characteristics. The work of special collections centers around the strategic collecting of cultural resources that contribute to scholarly research and are unobtainable elsewhere. Through their staff and associated faculty, the collections interact with the students, faculty, and the public, enabling the public to engage with the University in ways that are most meaningful to them. The activities of the collections preserve and enhance the all-important ongoing relationships. In addition, relationships with scholars in the disciplines represented by these collections bring wide recognition to the University among its peer institutions.