As crazy as the month of December is with Christmas and bad weather and parties galore, the staff at the KHS Special Collections and Library takes it up another notch in preparing for our Winter Hours. Now you may be thinking if we are “closed,” then what is there to prepare for? While it is true that we are not available to walk-in researchers from December 15 through March 7, we are still in the building Monday through Friday, working on various projects and answering research inquiries. All of these projects require a great deal of preparation just to get started – so let’s take a peek at what is going to happen in the coming months.
So, what is on the agenda for Winter Hours 2013-2014? Where should I start? To begin with, on December 16 we will begin to fill the reading room at the Martin Schmidt Library with all of the manuscript, genealogy, and photography collections that we will be processing, cataloging and digitizing for the next three months. We decided to stage each collection in the reading room and only remove it as each project is completed. This way you and the staff can track what gets done, each time you visit the reading room on January 11 and February 8 for public hours and Second Saturday programming. You will visit, right?! ‘Cause we want you to see our progress and get excited about all the new stuff you will have access to.
We are also joined this year by two winter interns, who have the somewhat dubious honor of being our “Winterns.” Starting on January 6, Courtney Jordan and Jason Smith will join our team. Courtney comes to us from the Ashland, Kentucky area but she is a graduate student in Library Science at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. Jason will travel from Brooklyn, New York where he is pursuing a Masters degree in Museum Studies at New York University. The interns will join teams that are focusing on two collection areas: manuscript collection inventory and the William Ogden photography studio collection digitization.
Each year, in addition to processing and cataloging new collections, staff conduct an inventory of the collections to ensure that we can find all components of a collection as well as assess the condition of each collection. It would be impossible to do the entire library collection (books, manuscripts, graphics and oral history collections) in one year, so we have broken the collections down into smaller segments and each year address specific parts of the collection. This year it is Manuscripts (letters, diaries, business records, bible records, ephemera, etc.). In addition to finding and appraising each collection, we will be updating the finding aids, uploading those to the Digital Collections and linking the finding aids to the catalog records. This will ensure that any researcher can view up to date, descriptive information about each collection online, from the internet device of their choice. Both Courtney and Jordan will be working side by side with staff to complete this inventory, learning the importance of good collections management practices and seeing how KHS staff are using team projects to get the maximum amount done.
The other project our Winterns will be working on is the William Ogden photography studio collection. We have identified over 900 images to be digitized, described and loaded into our Digital Collections. At the end of January, we will be co-hosting a community sharing event at the Bluegrass Heritage Museum in Winchester, Kentucky. You may be familiar with our Piecing Together History events (T. T. Wendell in Lexington and Watson and Robinson in Hopkinsville are two events we have held in 2013) where we bring collections and communities together to encourage communities to share information and knowledge about the context and content of our collections. We have been working with Bluegrass Heritage Museum volunteers over the past few years but now we want to take it to the next level and get people throughout the Winchester and Clark County community in on the conversation. Stay tuned for more information on that as we progress.
We also have a backlog of Franklin County images that we need to scan, describe and put up in the Digital Collections. Many of these were uncovered during the research involved in the Governor’s Mansion Centennial project and they provide a fascinating glimpse of Frankfort at the turn of the last century. We also have multiple towers of local history and family history pamphlets that need cataloging. We have the outlines of literally dozens of articles that need to be written for Kentucky Ancestors Online, as well as authors who are chomping at the bit to get their articles edited and put up online.
We know we have probably been overly optimistic in thinking we can get all of this done by March 7. It is hard to fit all the things we want to do into three months, but the projects that need teams of people working on many different aspects are impossible to do while those people are also helping with reference letters and desk shifts. We take comfort in knowing that we will not be working alone: we have over 12 volunteers trained up and ready to help. You can follow our progress here and on Facebook and Twitter. And, weather permitting; you will see real signs of progress on January 11th.
Of course, if you and nine others want to make an appointment for a research day, we can definitely make that happen. Research days can be scheduled for groups of 10 or more through the main reference number at 502-564-1792 ext 4460 at least one week in advance.
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