Quarterly Update

Carol Schuetz, editor



Laura Hibbler, Editor

The new Facebook page of the RUSA HS Genealogy Committee now has 51 follows. New content is posted by Genealogy Committee members several times each week.

The Genealogy Pre-conference Planning Committee is planning a Preconference ALA Annual. More details to come.
The Instruction & Research Services Committee is finalizing speakers for this year’s section program at annual, “Chicago as a Model for Public History: Initiatives and Collaborations.” We have 2 confirmed panelists (one from the Chicago Labor Trail and one from the Forty Blocks: The East Garfield Park Oral History Project), and we’re awaiting confirmation from one (possibly two) more speakers. It’s promising to be a very interesting program, so be on the lookout for more information as details are finalized.
There was some great activity at History Section programming at ALA Midwinter!

Local History/Genealogy Discussion Group

We had about 30 people attend and had a lively, fun discussion about how to field local history inquiries, copyright law, reimagining the role of local history in your community, and doing a lot with a little. The wide range of backgrounds was really good–people who work full time in local history or genealogy and others who worked at small libraries or were recently saddled with local history/genealogy responsibilities who needed assistance getting the lay of the land.

Notes from the Local History and Genealogy Discussion Group:

Use of technology, especially in programming:

  • Mobile oral history kits
  • Mobile digitization stations

Sharing historical authority:

  • Not just presenting a master narrative to users, but inviting them to add or participate
  • Talked about places and things that are important to people but not “important” in a political or power-structure way, so they are not as easy preserved (Example: Statues from the Fairyland Park and Zoo in Tampa. People remember them, important in childhoods, but dismantled and decaying now. Auctioned and people envision restoring them.)

Politics of Local History:

  • In particular, breaking the “news” that a person’s narrative isn’t the objective truth or even the only “truth”
  • Issues related to race and historical moments of trauma
  • Recording oral traditions to give voice to those who were not the record keepers
  • Examples or stories of finding a “Truth” false
    • Working to make space for more than one narrative, without as many judgements on any of the narratives
    • Encourage research that finds the stories that are there, rather than researching to “prove” a preconceived story.

Book suggestions:

  • Sustainable Genealogy:Separating Fact and Fiction by Richard Hite
  • Letting Go: sharing historical authority in a user centered world edited by Adair, Filene, and Koloski

History Librarian Discussion Group Notes

Collections (How to make materials more known and used):

Ways for non-academic history librarians (special collections, etc.) to connect with university/college audiences

  • Reach out to librarians at those institutions and let them be a liaison with faculty and students
  • Spark jealousy–get one prof and more will follow
  • Make libraries as user friendly as possible; model on local academic libraries that are familiar to those users
  • Find people ready and willing to experiment
  • Hold open houses/receptions, start prizes for researchers
  • Highlight and promote the obscure and unusual

Issues with moving collections to off-site/less accessible locations

  • Getting rid of microfilm entirely is a more extreme example of this mentality
  • Not a good thing for users to have access to only digital; Access to print and microfilm collections is valuable
  • Beneficial for students to see history in different formats and in-person
  • Use of quantification in assessment, but very little about assessing quality of research/research experience

Ebooks and articles: Are Ebooks replacing traditional books?

  • Students continue to prefer print books over ebooks, though they are willing to read journal articles online
  • Interviews with historians about ebooks: less serendipity in research, exclusivity of digitization

How can we collect qualitative data for support of collections, particularly non-digital formats

  • Like an anthropological study about *how* people use things
  • “Not everything that counts can be counted.”
  • It is vital to agree on what the metrics are before you actually DO the metrics
  • Ways to talk to historians about the importance of microfilm, print histories, etc. in this age of digitization

Access and Metadata: stress/balance between getting metadata out quickly or having really good, detailed metadata

Testing websites and usability: how to organize lots of complex things so that they can be found

Mentoring non-Library Science graduate students (We had a cohort of history grad students and recent grads join the discussion group.)

  • Get them before they finish their research!
  • When does it help you the most to meet with librarians? Suggestion: Right at the beginning and meet every semester at least once.

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