Jigsaws, shells, and Lego: building heritage collections

For many years, heritage collections were built up through revolutionary confiscation, donations, legacies, and so on, with little or no input from librarians. Apart from the obvious criteria of age, rarity, and value, what should librarians look for when building up a heritage collection today? Simply working from criteria of quality, collectability, and geography (collecting works of local interest) means running the risk of facing accusations of elitism and sacralisation, often levelled against collections of works of historic interest. Nor would this approach meet the needs of the public at large or researchers in the future. Might shared conservation projects and the creation of a “semi-heritage” status be a way to establish the value of a document regardless of its quality, or even to build up a heritage collection of documents whose main interest lies in their very ordinariness?