Many digital library collections are the virtual analogs of special collections in libraries, museums, historical societies and archives today. A field study of people responsible for collection maintenance across a variety of institutions was carried out. It aimed at improving our understanding of issues involved in collection description and access. A second study examined the current state of Web access to materials from the previously studied special collections. Data concerning the availability of online finding aids, externally accessible databases for collection content, digitized images and Web exhibits are presented.