Climb to the third floor of Addlestone Library, stroll to the rotunda’s eastern curve and you’ll find it: “Special Collections” reads the door decal.  

ZEEET ZEEET go the electric locks as they disengage. And you’re in. 

You’ve unlocked the repository of timeless treasures – a 1613 King James Bible, a complete set of John James Audubon’s Birds of America – that is Special Collections. 

But the value of the manuscripts, diaries, artwork and ephemera herein transcends any dollar amount. Here, visitors come to find their family histories, not to gape at priceless curios. This is no impersonal museum.  

We are not talking simply about paper, about books, about things. These are the memories that many today seek to discover and connect with. For the patrimony of our city and our communities, these are materials we are dutybound to protect and to share.   

And – as the new director of Special Collections – Kelly Kerbow Hudson takes this charge seriously. 

An award-winning librarian and member of the Academy of Certified Archivists, Kerbow Hudson brings 17 years of experience with manuscript materials and rare books to the position. She received her B.S. and M.L.I.S. from the University of Texas at Austin, where she worked previously at the Harry Ransom Center.  

“In addition to her background in the more technical aspects of archival description, preservation and stewardship, Kelly brings extensive instruction and public services experience to her role,” says Heather Gilbert, associate dean of collections and content services.

“In my archival work I have consistently prioritized access and inclusion, and I plan to make them the focus of my directorship,” says Kerbow Hudson. “Balancing access with other priorities like collecting and conservation can be tricky in special collections, so a leader really has to be an advocate.” 

And, while scholars may visit from across the country and around the world to research the one-of-a-kind materials in Special Collections, Kerbow Hudson and her team’s service to CofC students and faculty is paramount. 

An integral partner for the Lowcountry Digital Library and History Initiative, Special Collections’ impact ranges far beyond its four walls – something that Kerbow Hudson recognizes and respects. As she assumes her new mantle, she will expand efforts to deepen relationships with communities on campus and across Charleston, including via collaborations with the Avery Research Center, the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program and academic departments. 

“Special Collections is an invaluable resource for our students, faculty, visiting scholars and the larger community,” says John White, dean of College Libraries. “It was imperative that we hire a candidate with a deep understanding of contemporary archival practices capable of building and leading a 21st-century archive. We’ve certainly found that in Kelly.”