Explore the changing landscape of programming and communications in public library archives and special collections. From photo-voice projects and citizen cartography to social archives and residencies for artists, ARCHIVES ALIVE illuminates emerging practices in American libraries.

Featuring more than 100 projects and programs, this first-time survey of public library archival programming offers ideas and examples that can be adapted for all types of libraries and cultural heritage institutions.

READ THE PRESS RELEASE ON ALA NEWS:
 
Making archives come alive for public libraries and their communities

According to Professor Anne Valk, Associate Director for Public Humanities at Williams College,

“For anyone who thought that public libraries were irrelevant, this aptly-named book offers an exhilarating response. Archives Alive profiles more than 100 projects — from exhibits and tours to artist residencies, oral history projects and digital initiatives — coordinated by archives across the U.S.

Together, these projects demonstrate the vitality of public libraries and affirm the importance of their unique collections in their communities. 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.

At once 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.

Archives Alive features:

  • Testimonials from many of the nation’s most creative librarians and archivists.
  • Examples of over 100 diverse programs that foster public participation.
  • A review of trends in public library archival and special collections programming.
  • Profiles of 13 special collections departments that are models of change.

REVIEW TABLE OF CONTENTS

Shackelford Family on Porch. From exhibition “Both Sides of the Lens: Photographs by the Shackelford Family, Fayette County, Alabama (1900-1935).” Birmingham Alabama Public Library Archives.
Shackelford Family on Porch. From exhibition “Both Sides of the Lens: Photographs by the Shackelford Family, Fayette County, Alabama (1900-1935).” Birmingham Alabama Public Library Archives.

“As an archivist it is a fabulous time to be working in special collections in a public library. Archives are the core of a library . . . they make that library different from every other facility. They also help people recognize what is special about their own lives and neighborhoods.”

– Elizabeth Sargent, Assistant Director for Special Collections and Director, Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library

Archives Alive is structured to provide entry points to the programming approaches found in libraries across the county. Ten (10) programming categories are explored in depth, examples are drawn from institutions large and small, and leading librarians and archivists comment on their public engagement initiatives and why they are significant for the future of cultural heritage institutions.

From Boston and Nashville to Little Rock, Seattle, Chicago and Bangor, Maine, Archives Alive captures works-in-progress that herald changes in the library and archival professions.

By shining a light on emerging practices Archives Alive reveals the capacity of librarians and archivists to build new connections between archives and their communities. It is also a call to action, demonstrating the need for greater recognition of archives and special collections for the future of libraries.

diantha-dow-schull

“Some institutions are reimagining traditional programs in the form of interactive exhibits and experiential tours, while others are experimenting with digital tools to enhance collections access, build new community connections and encourage citizen participation. Individually and collectively, the new programs and projects are repositioning special collections as core assets of our public libraries in the 21st century.”

– Diantha Dow Schull

  • Deidre C. Stam, former Dir. of the Program in Rare Books and Special Collections, SLIS of Long Island University; Trustee, Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation

    “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 Schull’s overview of more than one hundred library programs that are designed to engage audiences with original materials. Based on a survey of U.S. public libraries, both large and small, Schull’s lucid descriptions of exemplars from across the country address outreach, public programming, organizational structures, funding patterns, challenges, future plans, and more.”

    Deidre C. Stam, former Dir. of the Program in Rare Books and Special Collections, SLIS of Long Island University; Trustee, Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation
  • Krystal Appiah, African Americana Specialist and Reference Librarian, Library Company of Philadelphia

    Diantha Dow Schull brings much needed attention to the innovative programming taking place in public library archives and special collections around the country. From tried-and-true exhibitions to experimental digital projects with teenagers, these 117 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 resource.”

    Krystal Appiah, African Americana Specialist and Reference Librarian, Library Company of Philadelphia
  • Jennifer Weil Arns, Associate Professor School of Library and Information Science, University of South Carolina and Editor, Annual Review of Cultural Heritage Informatics

    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 and Editor, Annual Review of Cultural Heritage Informatics
  • Sharon M. Leon, Director of Public Projects, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, George Mason 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 roadmap 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