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Archives Alive: Expanding Engagement with Public Library Archives and Special Collections
Diantha Dow Schull
Item Number: 978-0-8389-1335-2
Publisher: ALA Editions
Price: $85.00
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352 pages
7" x 10"
ISBN-13: 978-0-8389-1335-2
Year Published: 2015
AP Categories: A, C

Read a sample of the book now!

All too often the image of a public library archive is of a dusty collection of artifacts and documents occasionally exhumed for a neglected display case. But librarians and archivists across the country are turning that stereotype on its head, developing innovative ways to bring library users into new relationships with archival professionals and research collections. From social archives and citizen cartography to artist-curators and photovoice projects, special collections departments are demonstrating their value not only for preservation but also for outreach, education, and public service. In this book Schull canvasses the nation, showcasing exciting ideas that can be adapted for every public library. A must-have text for anyone with responsibilities for directing, managing or teaching archival services, as well as for those who are studying best practices and planning for change, this book
  • Offers examples of more than 100 projects that reflect the scope and variety of emerging practices that foster public engagement, culled from conversations with dozens of the nation’s leading public library archivists and special collections staff
  • Profiles 13 institutions and departments that are in the forefront of change
  • Analyzes trends in public programming, community documentation, and digital communications that are re-shaping the image, functions, content, and uses of public library archives and special collections
Sharing models for institutions seeking to expand connections with public audiences, this unique survey demonstrates how to make archives come alive for libraries and their communities.

Visit the companion website for this book at Archives Alive.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Art and Archives

African Dance Projects, Jerome Robbins Dance Division
New York (NY) Public Library for the Performing Arts
Artists-in-Residence Program
The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
Arts and Archives: Master Classes in the Arts and Humanities
Hartford History Center, Hartford (CT) Public Library
Brooklyn Public Library: An Open Book
Brooklyn (NY) Public Library
Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection
Free Library of Philadelphia
Louisa Solano Poetry Series
Cambridge (MA) Public Library
Make It New: SDSU Book Artists Respond to the Wangenheim Room Collection
San Diego (CA) Public Library
Newark Art and Artists: Prints, Photographs, and Other Works on Paper
Newark (NJ) Public Library
On and Off The Wall: The Visual Arts Since 2000
Cleveland Public Library
One Book, Many Interpretations
Chicago Public Library
reThink INK: 25 Years at Mixit Print Studio
Boston Public Library
Songs in the Key of L.A.
Los Angeles (CA) Public Library
Third Thursday Jazz Series
Fort Worth (TX) Public Library
The Wonder Show, Rediscovery, Wonderful Surprise and At Play
Providence (RI) Public Library

Chapter 2: Community Archives

Center for Local History
Arlington (VA) Public Library
The Charleston Archive
Charleston County (SC) Public Library
Community Archivists Program
Austin History Center, Austin (TX) Public Library
In the Life Archive
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York (NY) Public Library
 Local History Center
Port Washington (NY) Public Library
Puerto Rican Community Archive
Newark (NJ) Public Library
Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection
Chicago Public Library

Chapter 3: Educational Initiatives

After-School History Workshops
Birmingham (AL) Public Library
Black History 360°: The Schomburg’s Summer Education Institute and Junior Scholars Program
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York (NY) Public Library
Brooklyn Connections
Brooklyn (NY) Public Library
Digital Anaheim
Anaheim (CA) Public Library
Educational Programs
Chicago Public Library
Life on a Tidal River: The Bangor Community Heritage Project
Bangor (ME) Public Library
Marion Butts: Lens on Dallas
Dallas Public Library
Pittsburgh Iron and Steel Heritage Collection
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (PA)
Progress with Chess Challenge
Cleveland Public Library
Rhodes College––Memphis Public Library Archival Fellowship Program
Memphis (TN) Public Library and Information Center
There Is No Better Place in the Country for a City: The Old Dominion Land Company and the Development of the City of Newport News
Newport News (VA) Public Library System

Chapter 4: Emerging Institutional Models

Austin History Center
Austin (TX) Public Library
Butler Center for Arkansas Studies
Central Arkansas Library System
Center for Folklife, History, and Cultural Programs
Crandall Public Library (Glens Falls, NY)
Collections of Distinction
Boston Public Library
Free Library of Philadelphia
The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
Houston Metropolitan Research Center
Houston (TX) Public Library
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
New York (NY) Public Library for the Performing Arts
New York (NY) Public Library
Public Affairs Department and Missouri Valley Special Collections
Kansas City (MO) Public Library
San Francisco History Center and Department of Book Arts and Special Collections
San Francisco (CA) Public Library
Special Collections
Pikes Peak Library District (Colorado Springs, CO)
Special Collections and Neighborhood History
Seattle (WA) Public Library
Special Collections Center
Nashville (TN) Public Library

Chapter 5: Exhibitions and Related Programs

Aerial Portland
Portland (ME) Public Library
Both Sides of the Lens: Photographs by the Shackelford Family, Fayette County, Alabama (1900–1935)
Birmingham (AL) Public Library
Breaking the Barriers: An Exhibition in Courage
Blair-Caldwell Research Library, Denver Public Library
Cowtown: History of the Kansas City Stockyards
Kansas City (MO) Public Library
Defining Their Identity––The Changing Role of Women in the Post-War Era as Documented by the Valley Times Newspaper
Los Angeles (CA) Public Library
Exhibitions and Public Programs
Schomburg Center for Research on Black Culture, New York (NY) Public Library
Gridiron’s Golden Era: Early Days of High School Football in Grand Rapids and Making a Difference: Outstanding Women in Grand Rapids History
Grand Rapids (MI) Public Library
Hidden from History: Unknown New Orleanians
New Orleans (LA) Public Library
How to Prepare a Possum: 19th Century Cuisine in Austin
Austin History Center, Austin (TX) Public Library
Leaves of Gold: An Exhibition of Illuminated Manuscripts
San Diego (CA) Public Library
Lunch Hour NYC and Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam
Exhibition Program, New York (NY) Public Library
The Nature of Nature: Depictions of the Natural World from the John Wilson Special Collections
Multnomah County (OR) Public Library
Paper Stories: Adventures in Kamishibai, Manga, Graphic Novels and Zines
Cleveland Public Library
Street Level: A Stroll through Hartford’s Past (1900–1930)
Hartford History Center, Hartford (CT) Public Library
Wit & Humor Collection Exhibitions
San Francisco (CA) Public Library
Wonderful Wizardry of Baum
Buffalo and Erie County (NY) Public Library

Chapter 6: Interactive Archives

Allen County Community Album
Allen County (IN) Public Library
MacArthur Library, Biddeford (ME)
Cincinnati Panorama of 1848
Public Library of Cincinnati (OH) and Hamilton County
Columbus Memory
Columbus (OH) Metropolitan Library
Creating Your Community: Colorado’s Social Archive
Denver Public Library
Crowdsourcing Projects
San Francisco (CA) Public Library
DC by the Book
District of Columbia Public Library
Des Plaines Memory
Des Plaines (IL) Public Library
Experiments in Citizen Cartography
New York (NY) Public Library
The Houston Public Library Exhibit Snapshot
Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston (TX) Public Library
John Cage Unbound: A Living Archive
New York (NY) Public Library for the Performing Arts
Keney Park App
Hartford History Center, Hartford (CT) Public Library
Participatory Exhibitions
Chicago Public Library

Chapter 7: Lectures, Conferences, and Broadcast Programs

Capital Decades
Sacramento (CA) Public Library
Forgotten: The Arkansas Center Korean War Project
Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, Central Arkansas Regional Library System
Hackley After Dark Lecture Series
Detroit Public Library
History Detectives
Grand Rapids (MI) Public Library
Krug Rare Books Room and Educational Series
Milwaukee (WI) Public Library
L.A. in Focus
Los Angeles (CA) Public Library
Local & Family History Lecture Series
Boston Public Library
The Memphis Room
Memphis (TN) Public Library and Information Center
Pikes Peak Regional History Symposium and Broadcast Programs
Pikes Peak (CO) Library District

Chapter 8: National and International Programs

American Archives Month

Austin History Center, Austin (TX) Public Library
Hartford History Center, Hartford (CT) Public Library
Monmouth County Archives, Monmouth County (NJ) Public Library
New York City Archives Week
Schomburg Center for Research on Black Culture, New York (NY) Public Library
Denver Public Library
Hennepin County (MN) Public Library
Kansas City (MO) Public Library
West Hartford (CT) Public Library
Home Movie Day
Madison (WI) Public Library
New Albany-Floyd County (IN) Public Library
Urbana (IL) Free Library
National History Day
Denver Public Library
Hennepin County (MN) Public Library
La Crosse (WI) Public Library
National Poetry Month
Boston Public Library
Newark (NJ) Public Library
Portland (ME) Public Library
Hillsborough County (FL) Public Library
Nashville (TN) Public Library
Somerville (MA) Public Library
Veterans History Project
Cincinnati and Hamilton County (OH) Public Library
Nashville (TN) Public Library

Chapter 9: Oral History and Community Documentation Projects

Brooklyn Public Library Oral History Projects
Brooklyn (NY) Public Library
Community Documentation Projects
Pikes Peak (CO) Library District
Flood History Project
Nashville (TN) Public Library
Forty Families Project
Palos Verdes (CA) Library District
Houston Oral History Project
Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston (TX) Public Library
Maria Rogers Oral History Program
Boulder (CO) Public Library
North End House History Project
Portsmouth (NH) Public Library
Orlando Memory
Orange County (FL) Library System
Queens Memory Project
Queens (NY) Public Library
Summit Memory
Akron-Summit County (OH) Public Library
Teen Tech Squad, Rhode Island Collection
Providence (RI) Public Library

Chapter 10: Tours, Commemorations, and Special Events

Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
Edgar Allan Poe Experiential Tour
Enoch Pratt Free Library (Baltimore, MD)
Edible History: How Latin American Food Evolved and Transformed the World
Newark (NJ) Public Library
History Tours
La Crosse (WI) Public Library
History Tours
Sacramento (CA) Public Library
JFK: A Lasting Impression
Fort Worth (TX) Public Library
Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr.
Birmingham (AL) Public Library
1939 Alexandria Library Sit-In
Alexandria (VA) Public Library
Torn in Two: The 150th Anniversary of the Civil War
Boston Public Library
Year of the Bard
Free Library of Philadelphia

About the Author

Diantha Dow Schull is an advisor to libraries, museums, and foundations on organizational and program development. She was formerly president of Libraries for the Future and the Americans for Libraries Council. Earlier, she was executive director of the French-American Foundation, director of exhibitions and education at the New York Public Library, director of interpretive programs at the Library of Congress, and assistant director of the Museum Aid Program of the New York State Council on the Arts. Schull serves on the board of the Connecticut Humanities Council. She is the author of 50+ Library Services: Innovation in Action as well as numerous articles on cultural institutions and was coeditor, with Pauline Rothstein, of Boomers and Beyond: Reconsidering the Role of Libraries.
Praise for Diantha Dow Schull’s Archives Alive

"This is the book I’ve been waiting for. The examples capture the changes that are adding all sorts of new value to public library services and improving the lives of those who live in the communities served by these libraries. I intend to use it in my collection development and public library courses as well as my doctoral seminars!"
— Jennifer Weil Arns
Associate Professor, School of Library and Information Science, University of South Carolina; Editor, Annual Review of Cultural Heritage Informatics

"For anyone who thought that public libraries were irrelevant, this aptly named book offers an exhilarating response. Archives Alive profiles more than 100 projects coordinated by archives across the United States. Schull documents the resourcefulness of special collections staff and illustrates the ways their innovative programs are transforming libraries’ connections to the people and places they serve. Inspiring and instructive, this compilation will be a valuable resource to library professionals, archivists, and people in other fields who wish to engage, connect, and teach the public through culture-based programming."
Anne Valk
Associate Director, Public Humanities at the Center for Learning in Action, Williams College

"Diantha Dow Schull brings much needed attention to the innovative programming taking place in public library archives and special collections across the country. From tried-and-true exhibitions to experimental digital projects with teenagers, these profiles provide a rich sampling of the imaginative ways that public libraries facilitate the use of unique archival materials by their diverse publics. Archives Alive is a required resource for library stakeholders seeking to inspire staff and audiences and to foster appreciation for public library resources."
Krystal Appiah
African American Specialist and Reference Librarian, Library Company of Philadelphia

"Public library activity dealing with the growing enthusiasm for special collections and archives has too often been neglected in the professional literature. A welcome addition to this emerging body of material is Diantha Dow Schull’s overview of library programs that are designed to engage audiences with original materials. Based on a survey of US public libraries, Schull’s lucid descriptions of exemplars from across the country address outreach, public programming, organizational structures, funding patterns, challenges, future plans, and more."

Deirdre C. Stam
Trustee, Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation; Former Director, Program in Rare Books and Special Collections, School of Library and Information Science of Long Island University

"With Archives Alive, Diantha Dow Schull has brought together an enlightening range of efforts to connect communities and collections. Large and small, these projects offer a valuable road map of promising practices for not only archives professionals, but also to those in the library, museum, public history, and education sectors. The work chronicled here will serve as impetus and inspiration for cultural heritage community engagement efforts for years to come."
— Sharon M. Leon
Director of Public Projects, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, George Mason University

”The examples throughout can be adapted by other libraries, and they may also inspire librarians to create their own special collections programming … Recommended for special collections librarians, reference librarians, rare book librarians, library administrators, archivists, and library students."
— Library Journal

”This book would be very helpful for any library with a special collections or archives interested in creating new projects and programs."
— Catholic Library World

”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."

”As a sourcebook of inspirational outreach projects, Archives Alive succeeds. As I read it, I found myself considering whether I could adapt aspects of these projects for use in our own outreach activities ... it would be a sound investment for institutions. This is a useful reference guide which can be used time and again for those undertaking both individual activities and continuing events to develop their engagement with the public."
— Journal of the Archives and Records Association

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