Special collection is a notion that appeared in librarianship practice as early as mid-19th century when the idea of separating certain items having similar formal features in common emerged. They comprised, in the main, manuscripts, maps and atlases, iconographic material, incunabula, particularly valuable collections and rare books. At the turn of the 20th century the number of special collection categories was enlarged when photographs and musical scores had been included.
Today, special collection is meant to be particular library holdings that need special procedures in their library preparation, circulation and preservation. These are collections of items that require processing different from typical library preparation procedures so characteristic for other “regular” library material.
Poznan University Library, in its over 90-year old existence, has managed to collect nearly 400,000 items of different kind, age, provenience and historical and research value in its holdings – from the Middle Ages to modern times.
National Library Resources (Polish: Narodowy Zasób Biblioteczny – NZB) comprises of 45 medieval manuscript codices that, following the decision of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage taken in 2016, have been listed as items of the national library resources. In 2013, all the selected items were digitised and are now available in digital form at Wielkopolska Digital Library web-site listed as the “Poznan University Library Medieval Manuscripts (also available to browse on Europeana). The codices are made available exclusively for research after submitting a request in the Manuscript Study Room.
Local Studies Library Resources (RZB) includes books and serials as well as documents of social life published regionally, or within the historical boundaries of Greater Poland, until 1953 inclusive and a number of selected other library collections that originated in the region. The decision to separate the collections form the general library holdings was imposed by the need of their special care and particular requirements for their sharing resulting from the deposit copy obligations of the Library to collect all publications published in the region for a documentation of the region’s academic, literary and artistic output.
Materials marked with the RZB sign are kept in special separate stack room and can be accessed only in the Special Collections and Local Studies Reading Room