Popular culture collecting in academic special collections and archives is sometimes still viewed within the institution as a challenge to traditional collection development, which has tended to emphasize the mainstream and enshrine privilege and power. This is especially the case when the cultures and media emphasized in such collecting might be categorized as being counter-cultural, DIY (‘do-it-yourself’), or somehow ‘other.’ This article consists of three case studies that emphasize recently developed popular culture-based collections at Rutgers University’s Special Collections and University Archives that focus on voices and communities outside archival norms of collecting: the New Brunswick Music Scene Archive, the New Jersey Regional Zine Collection, and the New Jersey Beer Collection. An emphasis on how faculty and staff have developed these collections by working with participants and creators outside mainstream popular culture leads to examples of how faculty and staff have engaged in outreach, particularly among students. Woven throughout are examples of challenges faculty and staff have faced around institutional acceptance, inclusivity, and cultural sensitivities along with work to overcome the challenges. The article concludes by considering future popular culture collection-building endeavours and engagement among students and community members.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Alternative mass media
- New Jersey
- music scenes
- popular culture