Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Metropolitan Library System Local History Special Interest Group

A new group met on Thursday, November 11, 2006. It is called the Metropolitan Library System Local History Special Interest Group. Fourteen people met at the Burr Ridge offices of MLS for two hours of discussions about collecting and managing local history collections.

First on the agenda were introductions. All the librarians spoke about their collections and challenges. Within the group were representatives from libraries with small, beginning local history collections and others with large, well-organized collections. All had some common problems of collecting, preserving, managing, and distributing materials. There is much interest in digitization and for finding ways to partner with local area historical societies.

Kathy Nicola of the Eisenhower Public Library District set up a Yahoo Group for local history librarians as a communication media for the group. Its URL is groups.yahoo.com/group/MLSLocalHistory/ and its membership is limited to library staff and volunteers who work with local history. She demonstrated how to sign up and sign in. Members have to have a Yahoo ID, which they can get with or without signing up for Yahoo email. As moderator for the Group, Kathy will approve the memberships.

Kathy went on to show the features of the Yahoo Group service. It has a couple of pages that can be seen by nonmembers, including information on the group and links of interest to local history and genealogy. Members can read the messages, post messages, load files or photos, add to the links or the databases, poll the other members, and edit the calendar. She asked members to add their real names to the Yahoo profiles to facilitate communications with other members. Members are also asked to post an introductory message if they have not.

The group decided to meet every other month, alternating between Tuesday afternoons and Thursday mornings to accommodate members’ schedules. Meetings will be held in members’ libraries and the Burr Ridge and Chicago offices of the Metropolitan Library System. Jack Simpson (unable to attend) has offered a tour of the Newberry Library, also.

Tentatively, the next meeting will be January 16, 2007, at the Elmwood Park Public Library, hosted by Russ Parker. The group plans to see the local history room at Elmwood Park, discuss local history collection policies, and decide what continuing-ed topics to pursue.

That was the business part of the meeting. During the course of the morning, much useful information was imparted.

Kathy reported that the Illinois State Historical Library will microfilm local newspapers for a nominal fee. The local library is responsible for collecting the newspapers to be sent to the state library. (Not everyone realized this. At my library we receive the Suburban Life microfilm from the state library without effort. Some other library must be collecting the papers.) Kathy promised to post further details on the Yahoo Group.

Mary Krekelburg of the Indian Prairie Library showed us the book Nearby History by David E. Kyvig, which she has found helpful.

Robert L. “Bob” Brubaker gave us publications about the Batavia Public Library local history collection. Bob worked for both the Illinois State Historical Society and the Chicago Historical Society libraries. He recommended that local libraries concentrate on what the local historical societies do not do, especially the providing of electronic databases with genealogy and local history resources. He also recommended the Midwest Archives Conference for learning about preservation.

Marilyn Oorbeck of the Riverside Public Library told about the Olmstead Society collection at her library.

Russ Parker of Elmwood Park talked about indexing his local newspapers back to 1962. When he has access to the Chicago Tribune Historical database, he finds and collects articles about Elmwood Park.

Christy Eyre of the Brookfield Public Library is running genealogy classes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I recently visited the Elmwood Park Library to do research on the local area as I am hoping to write a book for Arcadia Publishing on the history of Elmwood Park.
I found the reference librarian, Russ Parker, to be of the utmost help. In fact, he was so knowledgeable that I thought he should be writing this book.
Anyhow, the E.P.L. should be proud to have such an outstanding person working for them.