Letter from the Dean: Rick Luce, “The Importance of Special Collections”

Originally posted at ouhos.org, the now-discontinued blog of the OU History of Science Collections. Neither this post nor any of its content should be taken as an official communication of the University of Oklahoma.

Living Library exhibit | iPad exhibit guide

LuceOne of the many attractions of the University of Oklahoma is the History of Science Collections. Upon my first visit, I felt an immediate excitement as I looked upon the handwritten notes of Galileo, the original letters of Charles Darwin, and countless other treasures from deep within the vaults. With extensive holdings that continue to grow, as documented in this Living Library exhibition and catalog, the History of Science Collections comprises an internationally-acclaimed center of excellence for exploring science and its history.

Ongoing growth in special collections is essential to the creation of a living library. As we witness the disruptive changes now underway with the emergence of eResearch, special collections become increasingly important as laboratories for scholarship which support knowledge creation both locally and in virtual space. They connect communities of scholars and students around the world in collaborative and multidisciplinary ways.

It is rare to see a special collection as embedded in academic programs as is OU’s History of Science Collections. Local users of the Collections include students representing every conceivable undergraduate major who are bridging and connecting different worlds, disciplines and paradigms for knowing and understanding. Students with a sustained interest in this multidisciplinary field of inquiry may opt to distinguish themselves by completing a minor or choose to earn a bachelors, masters or doctoral degree in the history of science.

In addition, the reach of the History of Science Collections extends internationally, attracting scholars from around the world each year whose on-campus visits contribute a vibrant dimension to ongoing academic conversations. The Collections also serves the international community by participating in digital projects that are transforming scholarship and research methods in the history of science. Many opportunities await us in collaborative ventures to create multidisciplinary, international eResearch communities at the intersection of the sciences and the digital humanities.

The History of Science Collections of the University of Oklahoma Libraries is a living library, and that means exciting prospects lie ahead.

– Rick Luce


Rick Luce, Dean, University of Oklahoma Libraries, Peggy V. Helmerich Chair, and Associate Vice President for Research, 2012-present

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