We're getting ready to take on some additional volunteer and student labor here in HC&A, which got me looking for some good training material. It was great to see how many special collections now have introductory videos on YouTube. In particular, I thought these provided great background material for orientation to special collections:
University of Manitoba's "Rare Research: How to Do Primary Research with Rare Documents"
Michigan State University's "Special Collections Overview"
University of Waterloo's "Using Rare Books and Archives for Your Research"
These are aimed at researchers and are specific to the institution that produced them. However, it's remarkable that taken as a group, they show that while all special collections libraries are unique, they share a set of service values, reflect the identity of the institution, and exist to support research. For new staff and researchers, I think it's also helpful to see that rules about handling and use of materials - which might seem arbitrary or pedantic to new people - are also common to most special collections libraries.
All of this reminds me of my first day of work as an archives processing assistant. All I knew was that I was thrilled that someone was actually going to pay me to go through boxes of old stuff.