Reviews for Archives Alive

LIBRARY JOURNAL. November 1, 2015.

Schull, Diantha Dow. Archives Alive: Expanding Engagement with Public Library Archives and Special Collections. ALA Editions. 2015. 354p. index. ISBN 9780838913352.

Library archives and special collections are no longer solely concerned with preservation; today’s collections are being used by libraries in inventive ways. Public librarians are employing their special collections as a resource to develop exciting programs and projects in order to promote their institutions and to connect to their users. Museum and library consultant Schull (50 + Library Services) describes the efforts of these librarians by examining special collections programming at more than 100 U.S. public libraries. The author provides numerous examples, including art programs, oral history projects, educational outreach, and commemorative events. Furthermore, she explains how these programs have benefited libraries by making their collections more visible, by creating collaborative opportunities with other libraries and institutions, and by helping libraries to build relevancy. Moreover, these programs have proven valuable to library users in supplying learning and research opportunities, in assisting to encourage social interaction with other users, and in engaging the public in the collection development process. The examples throughout can be adapted by other libraries, and they may also inspire librarians to create their own special collections programming.

VERDICT Recommended for special collections librarians, reference librarians, rare book librarians, library administrators, archivists, and library students. — Dave Pugl, Ela Area P. L., Lake Zurich, IL


Catholic Library World. Issue Vol 86 No. 2. P. 134

LIBRARY SCIENCE. Expanding Engagement with Public Library Archives and Special Collections. By Diantha Dow Schull, ALA Editions, 2015, 324 pp., ISBN 978-0- 8389-1335-2.

Schull provides an overview of programs and projects from thirteen different public library archives. Based on interviews and presented as a series of case studies, she organizes her findings into ten thematic chapters. The chapter themes are: Art and Archives; Community Archives; Educational Initiatives; Emerging Institutional Models; Exhibitions and Related Programming; Interactive Archives; Lectures, Conferences, and Broadcast Programs; National and International Programs; Oral History and Community Documentation Projects; and Tours, Commemorations, and Special Events. Each chapter includes an introduction along with the descriptions of the relevant programs. Not all institutions are represented in each chapter but Schull makes sure to have at least seven examples in each section. The examples are presented uniformly with the following structure: overview, challenges, future plans, and whenever relevant, related programs. The overviews contain contextual information about the purpose of the program with a brief description of how it was created and its implementation. These selections provide examples of programs that target both general and specific audiences, highlighting the diversity of opportunities for special collections programming in a myriad of mediums. Each project is described briefly in a page or two, so the information in each overview is limited. As a series of case studies, this book is more useful at showing the variety of programming possible at a single institution than at supplying blueprints for individual projects. This book would be very helpful for any library with a special collections or archives interested in creating new projects and programs.  — Paula S. Kiser


American Reference Books Annual (ARBA) 2015
(ALA reference sheets)
Libraries Unlimited

Schull, Diantha Dow. Archives Alive: Expanding Engagement with Public Library Archives and Special Collections. Chicago, American Library Association, 2015. 324p. index. ISBN 13: 978-0-8389-1335-2.

Despite the omnipresence of emphasis on digital projects and digitization in Library and Information Science (LIS) literature, building, maintaining, and expanding traditional print archival collections, sometimes with digital augmentation, remains a key role for academic and public library archives and special collections. This compendium of case studies demonstrates that the desire to highlight and expand public access to and engagement with unique local collections remains a critical part of public library operations nationwide.

It opens with an introduction describing using digital technologies and programming to make unique archival and special collections more accessible to local, national, and even international users. This work is broken up into ten thematic sections covering art and archives, community archives, educational initiatives, emerging institutional models, exhibitions and related programs, interactive archives, lectures, conferences, and broadcast programs, national and international programs, oral history and community documentation projects, and tours, commemorations, and special events.

Examples of specific initiatives covered within these thematic sections include discoveries from the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Fleisher Collection of orchestral music; the Community Archivist Program at the Austin, Texas, Public Library’s Austin History Center; the Pittsburgh Iron and Steel Heritage Collection at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Library; the Jerome Robbins Dance Division at the New York Public Library’s Performing Arts Division; a history of Kansas City, Missouri, stockyards in the metropolis’ public library; the Allen County Community Album of genealogical information made by this Fort Wayne, Indiana, library’s renowned collections in the field; the Central Arkansas Library System’s Korean War Project; the Madison, Wisconsin, Public Library inviting individuals to bring 8 and 16 mm home movie for free onsite film inspections by experts and for public screenings; a Nashville, Tennessee, Public Library project documenting the impact of major 2010 flooding on Tennessee’s capital city by creating a digital portal repository; and the La Crosse, Wisconsin, Public Library creating interpretive tours of community buildings and neighborhoods characterized by scripted walking tours, a stage production, self-guided online tours, and trolley tours.

These examples show that local libraries are seeking to expand public access to their unique archival and special collections by creative marketing and taking advantage of emerging digital technologies. Recommended for libraries interested in expanding and promoting regional history collections. — Bert Chapman