Vision, Mission, & Values

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Tulane University Special Collections (TUSC) inspires actions that transform our world by creating pathways to evolving understandings of the past and present. 


In service to Tulanians, New Orleanians, and our global community, our staff works together to facilitate the broadest possible access to the resources in our care. Guided by professional best practices, standards, and ethics, we use our expertise to:

  • Select and acquire unique or rare materials essential to the study of New Orleans and its surrounding areas, including books, archives, university records, architectural drawings, audio and visual recordings, and ephemera;
  • Provide care for our holdings through preservation, description, digitization, and management;
  • Investigate and employ technology to increase accessibility and facilitate use;
  • Engage with the Tulane community, as well as the larger research community, through reference, instruction, workshops, and one-on-one consultations;
  • Curate and design physical and digital exhibitions, develop public programming, and create digital content to promote our resources;
  • Collaborate with our local, national, and international colleagues and partners to increase awareness of how archives and special collections, and the professionals that care for them, are integral to education in all its forms;
  • Create space for critical inquiry, creativity, interdisciplinary conversation, and communal discovery.

Celebrating New Orleans and its residents: We are passionate about promoting the distinct vibrancy of our city. We promote awareness of the significant contributions New Orleanians have made to local, national, and international culture and society. We honor the diverse communities and cultures embedded here, and concurrently strive to learn from our global counterparts. We encourage conversations that promote a sustainable future for New Orleans and its inhabitants.

Prioritizing access and use: Users are at the center of our work and are considered at every stage of collections care. We employ flexible practices that enable efficient access to our holdings, and continually investigate new methodologies and technologies that support increased access. We are strategic in promoting collections use, seeking cross-disciplinary and collaborative partnerships that connect us to new audiences. We believe access and use are fundamental to responsible stewardship, and that this honors our commitment to the people who trust us with their histories.

Growing our staff and leading our profession: We are committed to developing leaders on our campus and in our field. Our staff is encouraged to be curious, embrace new challenges, and not be afraid of failure. Our ambitions are nurtured and our accomplishments are celebrated. We believe that cultivating a highly skilled staff who is empowered to act with confidence makes us better learners, teachers, and collaborators.

Upholding responsible stewardship: We select, acquire, care for, and promote our collections as an intentional and thoughtful endeavor. Strategic planning, resource allocation, project development, and priority setting are informed by qualitative and quantitative data, and are undertaken collaboratively. We promote transparent practice by ensuring policies, procedures, and information about our holdings are documented, easy to find and understand, and available for both staff and our community. These activities help make our staff’s labor visible and foster a culture of accountability.

Embracing transformative care: Patriarchal white supremacy permeates our profession, our institution, and our culture, and it oppresses our staff and our community. To confront this, we begin by reflecting on our practices and actions, and then seek to reimagine them as tools for promoting anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion. We are committed to learning and developing new ways of operating that demonstrate sensitivity and humility, so that we can begin to establish trust among ourselves and with the communities we serve. We strive to elevate the expertise and lived experiences of the creators and communities documented in our collections. We aim to honor the complexities of their stories, and we respect their right to self-identify and self-describe. We care for the collections, but people are always our priority.