Consortium of National and University Libraries

Unique and Distinct Collections Group


  • The purpose of the group is to support the strategic objectives of CONUL by providing expert input on all aspects of Unique and Distinct Collections in CONUL Libraries
  • The group will focus on the promotion and visibility of Unique and Distinct Collections including Archive Collections, for research and public engagement
  • Communicate best practice for storage, management and preservation of Unique and Distinct Collections
  • Foster new partnerships with national and international bodies with common interests
  • Explore and identify other special collections, archives, and resources in Ireland of value to CONUL


CONUL Treasures: this online exhibition presents just a sample of the incredible variety of unique and distinct collections within the CONUL Libraries. Visit the Online Exhibition.

Action Plan 2017 – 2020:

  • Review the results of the Survey of Unique and Distinct Collections 2014-2016 for promotional activities and planning of collaborative projects
  • Review and define ‘Hidden Collections’ within Unique and Distinct Collections and options for accessibility
  • Define storage requirements for the preservation of Unique and Distinct Collections
  • Review Collection Development Policies of CONUL’s Unique and Distinct Collections to explore opportunities for the collaborative approach to collecting the Comprehensive record of Ireland’s memory

Membership – 2020: includes Representatives of 13 CONUL Libraries as follows:

Chair: Elaine Harrington (UCC)

Secretary: Kieran Hoare (NUIG)

Communications: Sophie Evans (RIA)

Members: Ken Bergin (UL), Niall Burns/Jayne Dunlop (UU), Catherine Cooke (TU Dublin), Louisa Costelloe/ Deidre Wildy (QUB),  Sandra McDermott (NLI), David Meehan (DCU), Hugh Murphy (MU), Mary O’Doherty (RCSI), Sarah Poutch (UCD), Laura Shanahan (TCD).



  • The group will exist for a three-year term with allowances to ensure continuity
  • Meetings will be quarterly on average
  • Meetings venues will rotate


  • Minutes will be kept as meeting records to be archived at the end of term
  • Reporting will be to CONUL Board as required
  • An Annual report will be provided each year
  • The webpage will be kept up-to-date
  • Social media will be used to dissemination the work of the group


Survey of Unique & Distinct Collections in CONUL libraries, 2015

In 2015 10 CONUL Libraries completed a survey of their Unique and Distinct Collections, capturing a snapshot of their range and size. The holdings were examined by the Collections, Preservation & Conservation Sub-committee and colleagues, to tease out the accessibility, condition, preservation and other needs of UDC’s, and to expose the findings as a means of identifying and promoting collaborative work packages in an effective way in a climate of restricted resources. Participating Libraries were DIT, QUB, RCSI, RIA, NUI Galway, NUIM, TCD, UCC, UDC, and UU.

Download the Summary of CONUL UDC survey 2015