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Our mission and vision

Special Collections in Performing Arts (SCPA) at the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library of the University of Maryland Libraries acquires, preserves, and provides access to research materials that document performance, instruction, and scholarship, consistent with the university’s performing arts educational objectives. Our community is any student, faculty, and external researcher in pursuit of (1) new original research, (2) programming any level of performance, (3) hands-on experience working with primary sources, or (4) resources for genealogical inquiry or individual memory. We house, preserve, and describe our collections in adherence to the latest archival standards, while striving to offer convenient routes to access through an approachable reading room experience, numerous points of online access, and innovative public programming.

The vision for SCPA perpetually evolves, while pursuing a series of objectives:

  • We will be a true performing arts special collections repository – striving for balance in dance, music, and theatre, with attention given to puppetry in the performing arts. Acquiring music collections had a thirty-year head start on dance and theatre at SCPA, but we are pursuing new consequential collections towards achieving equilibrium.
  • Our collecting and services will anticipate trends in scholarship at UMD and our larger research community. We do this through building relationships with faculty and students, but also with our more engaged and regular external scholars. It is from our users that we learn what they need, and then we envision how to meet that need.
  • We will always be a creative partner with the School of Music, the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies, The Clarice, and any other academic or arts entity, as well as the other special collections at UMD. These creative pursuits will result in public programming, collaborative collection building, innovative services, or possibilities we are yet to consider.
  • We will continually seek new ways to remove barriers to access. These barriers can be physical or intellectual. Our collections exist for use, and our policies, procedures, and facility must inspire use. 
  • Our international acclaim for collections and services will continue to rise. 
  • Finally, we will always serve as a laboratory environment for archivists in training, as well as for musicologists and ethnomusicologists who are seeking formal experience working hands-on with primary source materials. We are an ideal special collections for experiential learning, and students are afforded the opportunity to expand existing skills, while learning new ones, in a practically applicable archives setting.