Collection Development Guidelines for the Archives and Special Collections

1. Purpose

These Collection Development Guidelines provide a framework for future collection development priorities, by purchase and gift, in Archives and Special Collections (Rare Books, Rare Music, Prints, Rare East Asian and Rare Maps)

The Collection Development Guidelines outline the history and strengths of the Archives and Special Collections in broad terms, and how these strengths will inform future collection development. The guidelines are intended as a tool to assist decision making and are dependent on collaboration between Library staff, academics, students and faculty.

2. Responsibility

The Associate Director, Special Collections and University Archivist is responsible for these guidelines and their periodic review.

Digitisation Guidelines and Priorities (rework of Digitisation Policy, still to be written)

4. Guidelines for Acquisition

Acquisitions for the Archives and Special Collections should comply with the Collection Development Process and the guidelines outlined in Giving to the Library

Decisions for purchase or accepting donation will also be informed by:

  • existing strengths in the collections
  • identified gaps
  • areas for development in support of the curriculum, the object-based learning program, current research activity and exhibitions
  • duplication of items in the region, i.e. at other Victorian Universities and the State Library of Victoria

5. Description of Archives and Special Collections

5.1. Rare Books

Rare Books comprises around 220,000 historic and unique volumes, journals and ephemera, covering the period from the 12th to 21st centuries.  Works are included in the collection by reason of their age, value or uniqueness, and include items of special provenance or ownership, limited editions and historic bindings.  The great richness and depth of the collection has been built upon the generosity of several major benefactors - George McArthur, J. Orde Poynton, Frederick Morgan and Ian McLaren amongst others – reflecting the vision of their individual and diverse collecting interests.

Strengths of the collection include Australiana, Book arts and history, Children’s Books, Early scientific and medical works, English literature, Greek and Roman classics, Social and political thought and University of Melbourne material.  Other highlights include the world class holdings of literary editions by Sir Walter Scott and Lord Byron,  a nationally significant collection of early Middle Eastern manuscripts, the fine printings of notable private presses (such as Kelmscott and Ashendene), and an excellent teaching collection of medieval manuscripts in facsimile.

Examples of some significant works held are Piranesi, Collection of folio works, 1761-1807; Colonna, Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, 1499; Mr William Shakespeare’s comedies, histories and tragedies (Second folio) 1632; Hooke, Micrographia, 1655; John Gould, The birds of Australia, 1848 and the Mammals of Australia 1863; Latin Bible Mainz: Peter Schoeffer 1472; Parler seul : poème Tristan Tzara  and Joan Miró 1950, Dlia Golosa. Mayakovsky, Vladimir and El Lissitzky 1923.

Future collecting will concentrate in three main areas:  enhancing existing strengths by acquiring rare and early editions, and works by influential authors, which are not already held; by filling individual gaps in the collection where these are known or exposed; and by building representative selections of rare materials which support the university’s evolving teaching priorities.

In addition to these general guiding principles, there are several areas with potential for future growth. Additions of significant or new areas requiring development include 18th-20th century literary first or early editions, material documenting key developments in science, engineering and technology, items relating to the book arts (including plate books, private press and the modern illustrated book) and history of the book, major historical works in modern fields of enquiry such as economics, sociology and international relations and important Australian material.

5.2. Print Collection

The University’s Print Collection includes over 8,000 individual prints and also print albums, drawings, paintings and books. Its principle aim is to be representative of Western printmaking practitioners and techniques (relief, intaglio and planographic) dating from the 15th to the 19th century, but it also includes examples from the 20th and 21st century.  It was established in the Baillieu Library in 1959 through the gift by Dr John Orde Poynton of approximately 3,700 Old Master prints dating from 1460 to 1850. Works of art by high caliber artists such as Albrecht Dürer, Jacques Callot, Rembrandt van Rijn and William Hogarth were included in this major gift. The important Sadeler albums, which were collected by Elizabeth Seymour Percy Northumberland, were purchased in 1962. The collection was further enhanced in 1964 with Harold Wright’s bequest of half his Lionel Lindsay print collection and prints by Lindsay’s British contemporaries. The primary role of the collection is its purposeful and rich resources for teaching, research and exhibition.

Identified gaps and areas for growth are concerned with enhancing the depth of techniques and practitioners dating from the 15th to 19th centuries for art historical and curatorial studies. These prints include early experiments from the 15th century, 16th century etchings, 18th century French prints and early lithography. In addition, the collection needs to be relevant to other aspects of curriculum such as, indigenous visual arts, and develop further object based programs such as print culture and economics.

5.3. Rare Music

The Rare Music collection comprises music manuscripts, printed scores, books, archival collections—large and small—and other music-related materials that are rare, and in some cases unique. Previously part of the music library, Rare Music transferred to Special Collections in 2015. Some of the collection dates from the period when the University’s Conservatorium of Music was first established over 120 years ago, but after many donations and strategic acquisitions, Rare Music is large and diverse and numbers well over 10,000 items. The Hanson-Dyer Collection of early imprints and music manuscripts is at the core of Rare Music’s holdings of European music. This highly significant collection of works from the 15th century to the early 19th century includes rare French operatic works and British publications, works of the Italian Renaissance, books on music theory and instrumental ‘methods’. Significant purchases in recent years have consolidated these areas into collection strengths. Rare music also includes the archive of French horn virtuoso Barry Tuckwell; the archive of the music press, Editions de l’Oiseau-Lyre (1932-2013), founded by Australian, Louise Hanson-Dyer (1884-1962); and the professional libraries of several clarinettists and flautists. Other strengths include music scores in manuscript by Australian composers from the late colonial period to the present day; Australian printed music; and Australian concert and theatre programs and related ephemera.

Identified gaps and areas for growth include music associated specifically with the French revolution and music of 18th and 19th century Spain and Germany. Collecting in these areas will support subjects taught within the MCM. Early twentieth-century French music holdings (especially of Stravinsky, Satie and Les Six) should also be strengthened (an area complimentary to the Editions de l’Oiseau-Lyre archive). Acquisition of a “teaching set” of single leaves of an early music manuscript in pre-modern notation would support a planned music editing and palaeography subject if taught in coming years.

5.4 Rare East Asian

Originally housed in the East Asian Library, the East Asian Rare Book Collection was  transferred to Rare Books for safe keeping. The East Asian Rare Book Collection comprises Chinese and Japanese language rare books.The Chinese material includes 7,000 volumes of oriental-style works dating from the 1600s to 1935, as well as scrolls of painting and calligraphy, magazines published in the 1930s and diaries from the Cultural Revolution period. The East Asian Collection holds some 65 diaries from various periods in the Cultural Revolution. These unpublished manuscripts are mostly personal diaries, with some work diaries, and are important primary sources for this historical period.

The Japanese rare collections are particularly strong in history, art,  architecture, language learning and teaching and popular culture. There is a  comprehensive collection of kokuho shuri hokokusho (restoration reports  of 'national treasure' temples and other buildings); items relating to the  Kanto Earthquake of 1 September, 1923 (Kanto Daishinsai); pamphlets and  booklets advising the populace on how to prepare for American air raids during  the Second World War; and ephemera from Japan's occupation of Manchuria in the 1930s.

5.5 Rare Maps

We have over 15,000 rare and historical maps in our collection including some of the earliest cartographic works by explorers of Australasia and other regions.

5.6 Archives

The University of Melbourne Archives was established in July 1960, to collect and preserve records relating to the University and to business and business people for the purposes of historical research. Today it is one of the largest non-government archives in Australia, with a collection of nearly 20km of records.

6. Authority to dispose of material

Disposal from these collections is rare and would only occur under extraordinary circumstances and on the authority of the Director, Research and Collections