UM Library-Special Collections

Help this department of UM’s library in establishing a Student Incubator to increase the visibility and student participation in Special Collections.

The Project

The Project

Special Collections, a unit of UM Library, is seeking engaged, curious, and creative students to help us establish a Student Incubator.

The goal of the incubator is to increase both the visibility of, and student participation in, Special Collections.

What exactly is Special Collections? It is a unit of the Library often unseen and unused by students: it is where rare, unique, and often fragile books, artefacts, and manuscripts are housed. There is a great desire for these objects to be more known, used, and enjoyed by both the student body and the general public. The subject matter of these books include  philosophy, law, medicine, and history. There are also possibilities for applying new technologies (eg linked open data, multimedia storytelling, mapping) to the digitized objects/metadata.

The goal of this project is to create an innovative, creative, yet practical roadmap and presentation (including social media outreach) for how to establish the Incubator, recruit students, and suggest the kinds of activities/projects students would be interested in undertaking. You will be challenged through innovative design thinking  to establish the best solutions for Special Collections to move forward with the establishment of the Incubator.


In this project, the focus is on “creating something new”

The Client

The Client

The University Library holds various special collections of major significance. They are used for teaching and research, but they are also available to the general public. The ‘Jesuits Library’ is the library’s most important special collection, comprising some 250,000 volumes, mainly in the fields of philosophy, history, anatomy, literature, theology, law and social sciences (sociology, psychology, anthropology, economics).

The oldest books date from the 15th century, the most recent ones from the 1970s. In this sense, it is a broad (humanities) collection, offering a range of starting points for the research and teaching activities of the different faculties of Maastricht University.

Some of the library’s special collections have direct links to the province of Limburg and its history. UM’s Special Collections are nationally and internationally of importance as accessible collections meant to be used.

How can the books and manuscripts housed in UM’s Special Collections be made relevant to the Maastricht Student body? In an era of instant-online access, what do hard-to-read manuscripts and books published centuries ago offer to young people today? While the curator collaborates with academics for class projects, this project would investigate and propose solutions as to how the collection (via social media, participatory projects, in-person workshops, etc) can be made more relevant directly to students, enriching both the collection and students’ understanding of the past. Additionally, although UM’s Special Collections are primarily available for the academic community, the library also emphasises the cultural and societal importance of these collections and their relevance for the general public, and this project would provide ideas for student/public collaborations.

Co-Creator Client

This client might join the team for brainstorm sessions, meetings, and preparatory session. The co-creator is more actively involved in/during the project execution.