Local History Reference Collections for Public Libraries

Aug 10, 2015

Local History Reference Collections for Public Libraries

Two members of the Wyoming Library Community, Kathy Marquis and Leslie Waggener, collaborated on a new book out from ALA Editions, Local History Reference Collections for Public Libraries

They also recently had a co-authored article, “What To Collect? Building a local history reference collection at your library” in the online edition of American Libraries.

Marquis most recently worked as a public services librarian at the Albany County Public Library in Laramie, Wyoming. In her nearly 40 years as an archivist and librarian, she has directed reference in a wide variety of settings, including a large state historical society, university archives and special collections. Waggener is an archivist at the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center (AHC). Over the 14 years she has been at the AHC, she has worked with all types of historical materials in areas of reference, processing, and acquisition.

A collection of local history materials is useful to a wide variety of library users, from genealogists and family historians, to patrons researching the history of their home or church and local students searching for class project resources. Marquis and Waggener speak from their own experiences, while also sharing examples and ideas from other libraries around the country. Written in a to-the-point manner that facilitates easy implementation, this book:

  • shows why a local history reference collection is important, how it fits into a library’s mission statement and offers tips for getting stakeholders on board;
  • summarizes current trends and practices, explaining the differences between a local history reference collection and an archive;
  • walks you through each step of planning and setting up a collection, offering guidance for determining your audience, gathering materials, cataloging and processing and collaborating with other local history organizations;
  • includes advice on housing your collection, providing access for researchers and other users and staff training;
  • gives tips for marketing and outreach, including how to bolster your collection’s presence on the Web and in social media.

The authors present a start-to-finish guidebook for creating a local history reference collection that your community will embrace and use regularly.

The book is available through ALA editions. The Wyoming State Library has ordered this book for its professional library science collection, so it will also be available to Wyoming libraries through interlibrary loan. Find more WSL professional collection books on our Pinterest board and get regular updates on new titles on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.


If you have a question about this or any other article, please contact us at statelibrary@wyo.gov

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