Poster Session II: Poster Abstracts

A Universal Problem: A Case Study for Collecting and Engaging with the Records of a Displaced Community (Jessica Ritchie, Old Dominion University)

In Norfolk, Virginia sea-level rise is occurring at twice the global average, and at the highest rate along the Atlantic coast. Located in the heart of Norfolk, Old Dominion University (ODU) Libraries has made it our mission to collaborate with local individuals and institutions to preserve the region’s most at-risk history, and to help document changes within our community caused by sea-level rise. This poster will help attendees learn from our experiences identifying, acquiring, and preserving collections that are at risk from sea-level rise, with a focus on inclusiveness and collaboration. I will focus primarily on a case study of the “Unitarian Universalist Church of Norfolk Records, 1866-2011”, which was acquired by ODU when the church community had to abandon their historic building due to constant flooding. I will also highlight how ODU students have used the UU collection and others like it to research and document changes to our local geography and community, including mapping projects and research focused on displaced marginalized communities.


The Tides They Are a-Changin’ : Using Data Mining Techniques to Uncover Environmental Histories within Special Collections Materials (Justin C. Bridges and Alia Levar Wegner, Miami University)

This poster illustrates ways that special collections libraries can incorporate data mining techniques to identify hidden environmental histories for instruction and curation. Smaller institutions without extensive holdings must find creative ways to reframe their special collections and respond to growing scholarly interest in climate change. By blending traditional and emerging discovery tools, special collections staff at Miami University used data mining to uncover environmental patterns in the Bowden Postcard Collection Online.

The Walter Havighurst Special Collections at Miami University Libraries holds an extensive collection of 650,000 postcards, of which approximately 20,000 have been digitized. The vast majority of these postcards were produced and sold during the “Golden Age of Picture Postcards” (1895–1920), which coincides with the rise of the conservation movement in the United States. Rather unique when viewed as valuable scholarly resources, picture postcards can aid both students and researchers in better understanding changing societal views on the environment. Important historical materials for curation and instruction, these paper-based cultural artifacts have proven to be a challenge to incorporate into either educational outlet due to the collection’s overall size and breadth. Falling prey to the limitations of traditional discovery techniques (like keyword searching) to identify meaningful subject themes, the two librarians presenting this poster worked to find a better way to increase the discoverability of the inherent historical secrets that these postcards possess.

The poster will highlight the benefits and practical limitations of applying data mining techniques to special collections instruction and curation responsibilities. Special attention will be paid to the scalability of data mining as an instruction tool and offer practical first steps to incorporating data analysis tools into special collections workflows. This presentation will be of interest to special collections librarians looking for ways to use emerging data tools to explore how collections intersect with environmental issues.


Marine History for the Environment’s Future: The Archives of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (Kathleen McCallister, College of William & Mary, and Carol Coughlin, Virginia Institution of Marine Science)

The collective body of marine information and historical knowledge is critical both for developing future studies and for evaluating changes in and threats to marine environments. Originally established in 1947, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science initially began gathering works related to the coastal and estuarine environments. The current-day William J. Hargis, Jr. Library serves the Institute and the broader scientific community by providing access to such knowledge; its print and expanding digital collections, including its archives, furnish its patrons with decades of information and research in the marine sciences.

The amount and extent of its decades of archival material not only forms a strong foundation for further study, but also an invaluable source of data for examining the long-term result of climactic and environmental changes on our oceans and rivers and their inhabitants. The poster will give an overview of the library’s archives and examine how scientific libraries and their archives can contribute to effective environmental education, protection, policy development, and conservation.


Starting From Scratch: Using a New Start to Ensure We are Holding and Building Relevant Collections (Beth Farwell, Andrea Turner [not in attendance], and Joshua Been [not in attendance], Baylor University)

A new unit was formed this year to oversee the Central Libraries Special Collections (CLSC) at Baylor University, which contains over 10,000 rare monographs, a handful of archives, and includes rare music and artist books. Since the collection has never had exclusively focused librarian or staff time, gifts and purchases have been added over the years without a large-scale plan. The new unit quickly discovered a need to start from scratch. Limited space, especially with appropriate environmental storage, necessitated steps toward implementing policies and processes that would ensure responsible stewardship of resources and a relevant collection that supports new scholarship.

To tackle all that needed to be done, we decided the quickest way to communicate results and build understanding from all our communities was to let the data help tell the story.

We turned to our Digital Scholarship Librarian, Josh Been, for help working through Phase I — to use data visualization of information from our library catalog for a broader view and to assess holdings and create scopes for the new policy. The result is an interactive tool that helps us explore the collection and tell its story. Phase II includes an online interactive dashboard using Tableau that allows our community (librarians and faculty/staff) to explore the collections. Through both phases, data visualization helped present a visual representation of our strengths and gaps, allowed us to see our collection’s story, and more effectively tell that story to our community. Future phases will include using these visualizations to support building new instructional curriculum.
We found our plan allowed us to move quickly in our quest to determine relevancy and solidify thoughtful stewardship of all our resources.


Before the Black Action Movement: Recognizing African American Students at the University of Michigan (Caitlin Moriarty, University of Michigan)

This poster will present a long-term Bentley Historical Library project to identify and recognize African American students who attended or graduated from the University of Michigan prior to the first Black Action Movement in 1970. The core of the project is to create a list that is as comprehensive as possible of all African American students, and to use these names as a way to understand stories and experiences on campus. The project aims to contribute to a greater effort to document and present in the foreground experiences of Black student life at the University, past and present. This model of research will be used to further explore, understand, and highlight other under-documented communities at the University of Michigan. As of October 2018, 4,800 African American students have been identified, with information about their time as a student and afterwards.

The poster will explain the timeline and goals of the project, including the research approach, unexpected and inherent challenges, and progress. It will talk about the community stakeholders that have informed the project, as well as well as community reception of the project so far. It will show how the information has been utilized so far to form faculty partnerships on course projects, as well as presenting the information as visualized data. Lastly, it will address the creation of a database for student information that will facilitate research, connections, and storytelling.


Special Collections: Changing Climate on Sharing (Jennifer Duncan and Carol Kochan, Utah State University)

At a time when patrons are easily able to locate materials housed in special collections, how can we promote access to materials for patrons who may not live in close proximity to our repositories? In her recent Perspectives article, “Locked Out: Research Access as a Challenge for the Discipline,” historian Becky Nicolaides discusses the challenge of accessing research materials when one is working outside of well-funded universities. While Nicolaides primarily describes the commercialization and resulting paywalls blocking access to information, the principle also applies to restrictive special collections lending policies as many repositories completely exclude themselves from their institutional interlibrary loan agreements. The power of interlibrary lending to connect users to our collections is a democratizing force that we should embrace.

At Utah State University, those of us who work with collections support the idea of building collective collections, by strengthening relationships between resource sharing librarians and special collections departments and curators. Digital technologies that have enhanced workflow and delivery mechanisms for materials from the general collections are extensible to developing protocols for safely and efficiently lending books from special collections so that those who are far away may have better access to our materials. 

At the Merrill-Cazier Library, Resource Sharing and Special Collections have developed a system of policies and procedures to facilitate both digital and physical sharing of our material with other libraries. This poster will focus on the current national climate surrounding ILL agreements for special collections materials, sharing our workflows to safely lend our collections, and describing the benefits and highlights of our collaboration. Finally, we would like to note the added benefit of reducing the carbon footprint of patrons who might have otherwise been required to travel to repositories.


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