Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Notes from the Local History Special Interest Group Meeting at the Elmwood Park Public Library, January 16, 2007

Seventeen librarians attended the Metropolitan Library System Local History Special Interest Group on Tuesday, January 16 at the Elmwood Park Public Library. Most of the participants from the previous meeting returned, and several new members attended this meeting and tour of the local history room at the hosting library.

Russ Parker of the Elmwood Park Public Library passed out copies of his library’s local history policies and forms. The well-organized document describes the collection, explains the acquisition, access, and loan policies, and describes the library’s relationship to the Elmwood Park Historical Society. Attached were forms to apply to use the collection, to donate materials, to loan materials to the collection, to borrow materials, and to request duplication services (photocopies, scanned documents, or photographs). Russ said that he has used all the forms. Recently, staff from Channel 11 (PBS) in Chicago used the collection to research for an upcoming program.

Jack Simpson of the Newberry Library cautioned against making acquisition policies too detailed, which might scare off some donations. He said he would rather see what was being offered and then decide. Several members asked how to know when the documents of local organizations or companies were worth collecting. There was no easy answer, but many of the libraries limited by available space in their buildings. One suggestion is to collect newsletters from local organizations but not serve as the organizations’ archives.

Mark Johnson of the Franklin Park Public Library told us about the collection of photos and negatives given to his library. Some the photos can be seen at his library’s local history website. We discussed the rights to use scanned material on web pages. Copyright seemed to be less concern than being sensitive to privacy rights.

When discussing the management of digitization projects, Kathy Nicola of the Eisenhower Public Library District described Backstage Library Works, a company that will bring scanning equipment to a library and do a project on site. Knowledgeable staff will scan and create metadata. She has discussed a project with the company and thinks its rates are reasonable.

Christina Stoll of the Metropolitan Library System had another suggestion for a library trying to do a local history project but having trouble finding staff time. She said that library students at Dominican University need to do practical projects and might be able to help.

Kathy urged anyone who has not yet to join the group’s Yahoo Group.

Jack recommended the Mapping and Genealogy Workshop at the Newberry Library on April 13-14.

Christina took suggestions for Metropolitan Library System sponsored workshops. There included the following:

  • Basic archival techniques for small collections
  • Best practices for clipping files
  • Software and online tools for local history
  • Establishing good relationships between libraries and historical societies
  • Marketing historical collections
  • Using collections to create publications and programs
  • Meeting with Chicago area organizations, such as South Suburban Historical and Genealogical Society
The next meeting of the Local History Special Interest Group is pending for Thursday, March 15 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Metropolitan Library System.

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