Graduate Certificate in Special Collections

Note: iSchool specializations will be retired this fall. Specializations will not be an option for those starting the MS/LIS program in Spring 2017 and after. If you started a specialization(s) before Spring 2017, you have the option to complete them. If you have questions, please contact Karla Lucht, klucht [at]

The widespread digitization of texts and ubiquitous availability of electronic media have made special collections in libraries more important than ever. As research libraries begin to look more and more like one another, it is their special collections that set them apart, that remain a destination for scholars, a resource for teaching from primary materials, and a source of pride for an institution. Such collections can be found in universities and colleges, public libraries, historical societies, museums, and many other cultural centers of all sizes. Indeed, special collections librarianship is a growing field and one with a bright future. Our certificate addresses these realities and gives interested librarians and book people knowledge and experience in the field of special collections librarianship.

The Graduate Certificate in Special Collections is available to:

  • Current LIS students who want to develop expertise in rare book and special collections librarianship.
  • Individuals with at least a bachelor's degree who want to develop or enhance their knowledge of topics related to rare books, manuscripts, and special collections in libraries, archives, and museums.

What do I do next?

If you are interested in pursuing a Special Collections Certificate and would like more information, or if you are a nondegree-seeking student and would like to review the coursework you have already completed, please email klucht [at] (Karla Lucht).

Please fill out this online form if you are a currently-enrolled student who is preparing to graduate and who has completed all coursework for the Special Collections Certificate, or if you are a nondegree-seeking/community credit student who has completed coursework for the Certificate.

Program requirements

Students enrolling in this program must hold a bachelor's degree. A total number of 12 credit hours are required to receive the certificate, with a minimum of four courses to make up the 12 hours. We encourage you to come to campus and take at least two summer intensive classes. 

Note: Courses from a prior master's degree or other schools may not be counted toward this Certificate. iSchool students pursuing this Certificate may take the certificate courses within the scope of their master's degree program. Courses in the Museum Studies program in the Department of Anthropology (Illinois) may be counted toward the 12-hour requirement for this certificate.

Required course

LIS 580: Rare Book and Special Collections Librarianship

This course is designed as a practical introduction to Rare Book and Special Collections Librarianship. The course covers for the neophyte as well as the experienced librarian the many issues of these departments' responsibilities, including selection, acquisition, receiving, cataloging, processing, shelving, circulation, interlibrary loan, reference, preservation and conservation, security, exhibition, publication, and so forth, including the uses of information technology.
Credit: 2 GR hours

Courses offered on a regular basis

Archival Studies
LIS 581 Administration and Use of Archival Materials
LIS 584 Arrangement and Description for Archives and Museums
LIS 590CA Community Archives - Heritage and Identity
LIS 590PA Personal Archiving

Book, Manuscript, Printing, and Library History and Studies
ARTH 425 Manuscripts and Early Printing
FR 443 France and Modernist Magazines: International Publishing Networks and the Avant-Garde
HIST 520 Problems in Chinese History: Literary Culture and Communication in Ming Qing China
LIS 490BA Book Arts Seminar
LIS 512 History of Libraries
LIS 514 History of Children's Literature
LIS 590BB Bookbinding: History, Principles, and Practice
LIS 590BK The Picture Book: History, Art, and Visual Literacy
LIS 590BP Library Buildings and Society: From Past to Present
LIS 590BT Special Topics in Book Arts
LIS 590CP Rare Books, Crime, and Punishment
LIS 590GP Great Printers and Their Books
LIS 590HB History of the Book
LIS 590LP History and Techniques of Letterpress Printing
LIS 590MC Medieval Codicology: The Medieval Book from Sheep to Shelf
LIS 590MM Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts
LIS 590PB History and Practices of Book Collecting
LIS 590PM Manufacture, Description, Uses, & Preservation of Paper in the Scholarly World
LIS 590PO The Book as Physical Object 
LIS 590SU Historical Bindings (Suave Mechanicals: Studying Historical Bindings)

Conservation and Preservation
LIS 582 Preserving Information Resources
LIS 586 Digital Preservation
LIS 590AV Audiovisual Materials in Libraries and Archives
LIS 590GN Conservation of General Collections
LIS 590PC Preservation and Conservation for Collections Care 
MUSE 420 Collections Management

Information Organization and Resources
LIS 511 Bibliography
LIS 530A Music Librarianship and Bibliography
LIS 590BC Rare Book Cataloging
LIS 590DB Descriptive Bibliography
LIS 590RM Records and Information Management
LIS 590EB Enumerative, Descriptive, Historical and Textual Bibliography
LIS 590SR Reference Sources for Rare Books
LIS 590TL Theological Librarianship

Miscellaneous Courses
LIS 490MU Museum Informatics
LIS 590EDI Exhibit Design and Installation
LIS 590EP Electronic Publishing: Technologies and Practices
LIS 590EX Planning, Production & Practice of Library and Museum Exhibitions
LIS 590GE Genealogy and Library Service
LIS 590HS Digital Public History
LIS 590LI Legal Issues in Library and Information Science
LIS 590MH Special Collections in Museums and Historical Settings
LIS 590SL Special Library Administration
LIS 590SP Collection Development for Special Collections

Relevant Interest: The Midwest Book and Manuscript Studies (MBMS) Program

The Midwest Book and Manuscript Studies (MBMS) program addresses the issues outlined in the ALA/RBMS Core Competencies in Special Collections Librarianship through courses, workshops, and lecture programs. Please contact the Rare Book and Manuscript Library for more information.