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Alison Cullingford

Special Collections Librarian

Alison Cullingford

I have the privilege of caring for the University's wonderful Special Collections of archives, rare books, pamphlets, ephemera, maps ... unique and distinctive collections which can help your research, teaching, learning, or just for interest.

Contact me


Telephone: 01274 235256 (extension 5256 for internal calls)

Twitter: @speccollbrad

How can I help?

Put formally, I am here "to develop and exploit the Special Collections of the Library in supporting research and teaching within the University and making the collections more widely accessible to external users". This covers all aspects of managing the collections, including,

  • Strategic development and management of Special Collections, in consultation with academic staff and subject librarians.
  • Preservation and conservation of materials in the Collections. Marketing by cataloguing, descriptions, web and blogs, exhibitions and many other appropriate methods.
  • Service delivery, including dealing with enquiries, visitors, reprographics, digitisation and training of users.
  • Budget management.
  • Management of Special Collections staff and volunteers.
  • Fundraising.
  • Responsibility for legal issues affecting the Collections, eg terms of acquisition, intellectual property, freedom of information and data protection.
  • Space planning for the Collections.
  • Emergency planning for the University Library, and the training of library staff in disaster response.
  • Promoting the University and its collections externally through collaboration with other institutions, potential partners and donors.
  • Project management.
  • Liaison with suppliers.

Please do let me know if I can help you with any aspect of the University's archives or heritage.

Career history

I came to Bradford in 2000 in the new post of Special Collections Librarian, initially set up with funding from RSLP to make the important but underused Special Collections better known. I had previously worked at Manchester Metropolitan University and Nottingham University, and studied mediaeval history at York and librarianship at Sheffield. Bradford offered a wonderful opportunity to create a service from scratch and to make a real difference to the experience of users.  Our success was demonstrated in 2014 when we became the first ever English university to achieve the new Archive Accreditation standard.

Professional and research interests

I'm active in writing, blogging and speaking about the management of Special Collections: current research interests include impact (what is it and how do we demonstrate it), strategic collection development, and the value of social media and digital libraries in connecting with wider audiences.  I just published the second edition of the Special Collections Handbook (Facet, 2017).