Western Libraries Heritage Resources is Changing its Name to Archives & Special Collections

As of September 6, 2022, Western Libraries Heritage Resources will be known as Western Libraries Archives & Special Collections. Established in 2010, Heritage Resources brought three distinct archival and special collections programs together into Western Libraries: University Archives & Records Management, the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, and Special Collections. At that time “Heritage Resources” was selected to collectively represent the diverse collections and services within these three distinct program areas.

Archives, museums, and libraries acquire and preserve “culture heritage” as historical evidence for the purposes of education and research. In many instances, this historical evidence is removed from its cultural context, often without knowledge or consent of communities to whom it belongs.  While “heritage” is commonly understood as the values, beliefs and traditions of a particular community, group, or nation that are passed down across generations, the meaning and purpose of “heritage” is often determined by the dominant group or culture and reflected in its social and institutional structures.

Much of the “heritage” represented in Western Libraries’ collections does not belong to the library but belongs to the communities who created these resources and with whom Western Libraries has a responsibility for shared and respectful stewardship. Revisiting the use of the term “heritage” to better understand and consider the meaning of this term has led to the decision to change the name from “Heritage Resources” to “Archives & Special Collections.”

The name change will take effect immediately on all new content created on behalf of Western Libraries Archives & Special Collections (as is evident on the new library website), but there will likely be additional updates to established practices or processes that have over these past twelve years incorporated using the name “Heritage Resources.” Additionally, print and digital content created before September 6, 2022, will still contain the original “Heritage Resources” name, but when feasible, may include a reference to the new name, Archives & Special Collections.

If you have questions or need more information about this name change, or about Western Libraries Archives & Special Collections, please contact archives.speccoll@wwu.edu.

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