Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Archives Alive: Expanding Engagement with Public Library Archives and Special Collections

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Archives Alive: Expanding Engagement with Public Library Archives and Special Collections

Article excerpt

Archives Alive: Expanding Engagement with Public Library Archives and Special Collections. By Diantha Dow Schull. Chicago: ALA Editions, 2015. 324 p. Paper $79.00 (ISBN 978-0-8389-1335-2).

In Archives Alive, Diantha Dow Schull expertly demonstrates the strength, vitality, and importance of rare books, special collections, and archives departments located in public libraries rather than academic or research libraries. Schull's purpose is two-fold. First, she demonstrates the breadth and depth of special collections in public libraries; second, she demonstrates how twenty-first-century special collections departments work, frequently with technology, to increase engagement with the publics they serve. The scope is limited to special collections departments in American public libraries, but within these parameters, coverage is exhaustive and strikes an appropriate balance between activities at large, well-funded institutions and smaller departments with more modest resources.

The book is divided into ten thematically arranged chapters. Some chapters consider specific types of special collections and archives, such as art and oral history collections, whereas others consider innovative types of programming, including educational initiatives, exhibitions, and interactive archives. Each chapter follows the same format: an introduction that explores the chapter's topic in general, followed by 10-15 case studies exploring relevant exemplary programs at public libraries around the country. …

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