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The Rare Books and Special Collections Group unites librarians responsible for collections of rare books, manuscripts and special materials, with other interested individuals. The group promotes the study and exploitation of rare books, encourages awareness of preservation, conservation and digitisation issues, and fosters training opportunities related to the maintenance, display and use of collections.

Three or four times a year, a talk and accompanying exhibition or library visit are held in different parts of the country to cater for a geographically diverse membership. These meetings attract an international audience, particularly to the residential study conference held annually in the second week of September. The group also publishes an online newsletter three times a year, including articles, news and reviews, and the texts of papers delivered at the Group's meetings and conferences.

The Group liaises with others in related areas and organisations such as the Antiquarian Booksellers Association with whom it produced advice on the Theft of Books and Manuscripts from Libraries and Bookshops (see Publications section).

The Group gathers and disseminates information about rare book holdings and current acquisition policies, exemplified by a major co- operative effort to map the holdings of rare books and special collections throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland. This project culminated in 1997 with the publication of the second edition of The Directory of Rare Book and Special Collections (ed. Bloomfield, LA Publishing, 1997).

The Group is involved in the revision of the MARC fields for rare books and has published Guidelines for the Cataloguing of Rare Books (ed. Hillyard & Pearson, RBG, 1997). The  UK Bibliographic Standards Committee has a remit to take this work forward and improve standards across the UK.

RBSCG is one of over twenty CILIP special interest groups, and each member of CILIP is automatically entitled to join two groups. For more information on joining, visit the CILIP membership page.

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