Welcome to the Finding Aid!

The Public Library Archives and Special Collections Section is pleased to announce that our quarterly newsletter has transitioned to a blog format. Our section’s mission is to encourage advocacy for and education about archival, manuscript, local history, genealogy, and other historic and special collections within public libraries of all sizes.

Our mission for this blog is to provide a place for our members and other professionals to share their successes and challenges, connect with other institutions and professionals, and to discuss current issues affecting public library archives and special collections. We encourage suggestions and article submissions. Please email us at publibarchives@gmail.com with the subject line “PLASC Blog Submission.”


Focus on Collections: Native American Heritage Month

As part of PLASC’s commitment to further engagement with our members and institutions, we will be highlighting collections that pay homage to the “National Heritage Months”.

November is recognized as National Native American Heritage Month. Below we are highlighting one collection in each region of the country that does an exceptional job representing Archives and the Heritage Month. We also gave each institution the opportunity to speak a bit more on their collections and institutions if they wanted.

Typically, we choose public libraries to highlight, but many of these collections are housed in State and Academic Libraries. As Indigenous Heritage is best supported and showcased by the descendants of those who created the documents and artifacts, we also wanted to showcase the work of the American Indian Library Association (AILA) and the Directory of Tribal Libraries, Museums, Archives of United States.



Native Northeast Portal

The Native Northeast Research Collaborative‘s Native Northeast Portal contains primary source materials by, on, or about Northeast Indians from repositories around the world.  Documents are digitized, transcribed, annotated, reviewed by the appropriate contemporary descendant community representatives, and brought together with scholarly annotations and academic/community commentary into one edited interactive digital collection. The Portal currently contains thousands of records associated with scores of Native communities.

A visual description of Martha’s Vineyard in 1694 accompanied by a proposal to consolidate the towns of Tisbury and Chilmark, Massachusetts Archives, Massachusetts Archives, Vol.113, Doc.94-95; Native Northeast Research Collaborative, Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), Chappaquiddick


Oklahoma Historical Society: American Indian Center

The archives include federal Indian records placed in the society’s custody in 1934 by an act of Congress. Containing more than 3.5 million documents and 6,000 volumes, the collection represents sixty-six tribes. These tribes either were relocated by removal or are native to the area. These records include a variety of official documents and information relating to tribes in Indian and Oklahoma Territory.

The records of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek), and Seminole date from 1856 to 1906. These records contain primary documentation of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches as well as district and county records. Included are census records, accounts of legislative sessions, court dockets, correspondence, election records, treasurer’s records, materials relating to land allotment and leases, and school records. Extensive information about agriculture, citizenship, education, American Indian-white relations, law enforcement, and a variety of aspects of life in Indian Territory can be found in these documents.


Northern Arizona University

As part of a long-standing partnership, the Cline Library is pleased to host online access to archival collections owned by the Hopi Tribe, such as the remarkable photography of Milton Snow. Staff from the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office, in consultation with elders, select and describe the photographs and documents added to the public database. To learn more about Hopi history and culture visit the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office website.

Gallup Inter-tribal Ind. ceremonials. Florence & Spencer Koinva. Shungopovi. Aug. 10-13, 1950. [With Hopi arts display and basket of piki bread]; Milton Snow collection.


University of Nebraska – American Indian Oral History and Omaha Folklore Project Oral History Collection

The American Indian Oral History and Omaha Folklore Project Oral History Collection contains oral history interviews of Native Americans in Omaha, Nebraska as well as interviews collected as part of a program called the Oral History Collection of the Omaha Folklore Project. The interviews cover the cultures and personal histories of interviewees in the U.S. as well as leaving Europe in the first half of the 20th Century. Topics of discussion include life in Omaha, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, and day-to-day life. Those interviewed were of Native American, Polish, German, Swedish, and other ethnic or national descents.

The following information about the Oral History Collection of the Omaha Folklore Project was provided by UNO History professor Michael Tate: “This collection of several dozen taped interviews was assembled during the mid-1970s by mostly undergraduate UNO students under the direction of Dr. Michael Tate of the History Department. These tapes have not been transcribed, but each tape has a file folder containing an outline of the main points of the interview. These contain unique and detailed information about Omaha, Nebraska and rural towns from WWI through WWII.” Prof. Tate provided the following information about the American Indian Oral History Taped Interviews portion of the collection: “This collection of several dozen taped interviews was assembled during the mid-1970s. Virtually all were conducted by UNO graduate students under the direction of Dr. Michael Tate of the UNO History Department. Most of the interview were with Native Americans who talked about education, health care, reservation life, urban life and a host of other relevant topics. These were mostly interviews with Lakota (Sioux), Omaha, and Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) tribal people, but also include other tribal representations. A few of the interviews have been fully transcribed but the majority contain detailed outlines of what is contained in each separate interview. Many of the interviews deal with the militant activities of the American Indian Movement during that era. Several also were conducted with judges and law enforcement officers who dealt with the controversial trials following AIM’s occupation of Wounded Knee.”

Get to Know PLASC: Laura Carroll, Chair

Where do you work? What is your favorite part of your job?

I am the archivist at the Ohio County Public Library in Wheeling, West Virginia (about an hour southwest of Pittsburgh in the northern panhandle of WV). We’re a relatively small library in a town of about 35,000. My favorite part of the job is sharing the value of archives and history with the community through outreach efforts, such as teacher workshops, school tours and exhibits.

What’s a typical day like at your job?

As well as being the archivist, I am also the Assistant Director and Head of Adult Services, so I wear a lot of hats. At any given moment, I could be working with a donor to explain our local history collection policy, planning a tour of our current exhibit for a school group, ordering large print books for the regular circulating collection, or preparing for an upgrade to our online catalog.

When and how did you become an archivist or become interested in archives?

I first became interested in archives while completing an internship at a small historical society during my senior year of college (in the late 1990s). I processed a small collection of family papers which included diaries and correspondence, and I was hooked. I grew up in Illinois and decided to pursue a Public History Degree at Loyola University Chicago. After I landed my first archives job at the American Medical Association, I attended Dominican University and earned my MLIS by taking classes in the evenings over the course of several years.  I later moved down to Atlanta and worked several years at Emory University in their Manuscript, Archives and Special Collections. My time at Emory was pivotal in my career. I worked with extremely talented colleagues and unsurpassed collections. I was able to develop myself professionally by speaking at conferences and learning how to publish in the field. That being said, I value the work that I have done in public libraries most of all.

What’s your favorite project or collection you’ve worked with in the past year?

One of my favorite recent collections is the Elizabeth Kamm Gardner collection of dance programs, featuring over one hundred programs for dances, balls, roller skating carnivals and other social gatherings dating from 1882 to-1893. A local online publication published a story about the collection, and also a created a fun interactive quiz featuring some of the more interesting programs.

What made you join PLASC Steering Committee?

I have always enjoyed being involved in SAA and throughout my career I have sought out the groups that most represented my situation at the time. So it only made sense to answer a call for those interested in serving on the steering committee for the group serving public libraries. Many archivists who work in public libraries are lone arrangers, and the camaraderie and sense of community that PLASC provides is extremely valuable. 

Get to Know PLASC: Joanna Kolosov, Vice-Chair, Chair-elect

Where do you work? What is your favorite part of your job?

I work at the Sonoma County History & Genealogy Library, one of four special collections of Sonoma County Library, located in downtown Santa Rosa, California, about an hour’s drive north of San Francisco. 

The favorite part of my job is that every day is different. I gain exposure to new ideas, people and places, and historical insights. It’s great for the curious mind!

What’s a typical day like at your job? 

My typical day as a librarian/archivist is a mix of answering questions on local history and family history by consulting a wide range of resources including books, maps, directories, genealogy and newspaper databases, and archival collections. I facilitate donations of historical materials from community members and organizations. In my off-desk time, I am creating accession records to make our archival backlog discoverable. I also help manage the library’s web archives and provide access to the County of Sonoma Archives. And lately, I’ve been asked by non-profit organizations to consult on community archiving projects.

When and how did you become an archivist or become interested in archives?

I first encountered the professional field of archives (and that you could be an archivist) in the beginning of my MLIS program at UCLA. A documentary film enthusiast, I was interested in the elements – oral histories/artifacts/documents/photos –  from which a hidden narrative can emerge and curious about the notion of “archivist as documentarian.” I had an adviser who encouraged me to think big picture and take classes in documentary filmmaking from the department of EthnoCommunications and courses in Oral History. Working with primary sources, I developed an appreciation for the persistence of materials and the stories they embody. 

What’s your favorite project or collection you’ve worked with in the past year?

My favorite project has been bringing a DIY digitization memory lab to Sonoma County Library. I had been watching the Memory Lab Network evolve and had visited other labs and pestered their librarians (Thank you – Hoan-Vu Do, Jonathan Waltmire, Trina Camping, Breanna Feliciano – for your patience!!). Now, with a grant from IMLS through California State Library’s LSTA program, we will be offering digitization/digital preservation education, training and services to the public next spring. Stay tuned for the Playback Memory Lab – empowering individuals and communities to preserve what matters to them!

What made you join PLASC’s Steering Committee?

I joined to be part of a larger network of archivists working in public libraries. I wanted to contribute to making PLASC a resource hub and a forum to recognize the collections & programming work of our members from across the country.

Focus on Collections: Queer History Month

As part of PLASC’s commitment to further engagement with our members and institutions, we will be highlighting collections that pay homage to the “National Heritage Months”.

October is recognized as Queer History Month. Below we are highlighting public collections in each region of the country that does an exceptional job representing Archives, LGBTQ+ and Queer history. We also gave each institution the opportunity to speak a bit more on their collections and institutions if they wanted.


Gerber/Hart Library and Archives

Founded in 1981, Gerber/Hart’s collections focus on the culture and history of LGBTQ peoples and additional marginalized sexual and gender minorities in Chicago and the Midwest. Open to all, Gerber/Hart serves these communities by collecting, preserving, and making accessible collection items of individuals, organizations, and businesses, as well as publicly distributed items. Additionally, Gerber/Hart provides programming and exhibitions related to items in its collections and on other topics in LGBTQ history and culture.

“Turbo Queer,” GH Exhibits, https://exhibits.gerberhart.org/items/show/131.


New York Public Library Archives and Manuscripts

The Manuscripts and Archives Division of the New York Public Library holds over 100 collections pertaining to the history and culture of gay men and lesbians, and to the history of the AIDS/HIV epidemic. Gay and lesbian history and AIDS history are not a single subject; however, because of their interrelationships, both types of collections are included in this guide.


The Birmingham Public Library Archives

The Birmingham Public Library has the largest queer history collection in the State of Alabama. After partnering with the Invisible History Project, which collects queer history in three deep south states, the BPL became the main repository for non-textile collections in Central Alabama.

Lambda Alabama Conference for Lesbians and Gay Men 1982 program, Page 1,
Ron Joullian Collection,
Birmingham Public Library (Alabama)


Oregon Historical Society

The Oregon Historical Society’s research library holds an extensive collection of manuscripts, photographs, publications, and oral histories that document the experiences and achievements of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) communities in the Pacific Northwest. This guide highlights a selection of those materials by format.

Focus on Collections: Hispanic Heritage Month

As part of PLASC’s commitment to further engagement with our members and institutions, we will be highlighting collections that pay homage to the “National Heritage Months”.

September 15 – October 15 is recognized as Hispanic Heritage Month. Below we are highlighting one collection in each region of the country that does an exceptional job representing Archives and the Heritage Month. We also gave each institution the opportunity to speak a bit more on their collections and institutions if they wanted.



Gail Borden Public Library

“The Gail Borden Public Library has actively partnered with its Hispanic Community for decades, with a Hispanic Services department formed in 2011. Partners include the Elgin Hispanic Network, Organization of Mexicans in Elgin, Centro de Informacion and many more. See some documents and projects in the library’s Elgin Area Memories digital collection. “  – Madeleine Villalobos | Director of Hispanic Services

View past exhibits and celebrations here.

Hispanic Heritage Month Exhibit Walkthrough 2021, Gail Borden Public Library


The Public Library Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Special Collections, Joel Tito Ramirez Collection

 “Albuquerque native Joel Tito Ramírez’s ubiquitous art—paintings, murals, posters, and note cards—are not only popular, but frequently reproduced for the benefit of important causes. Some of which include the Arthritis Foundation, Cerebral Palsy Fund, and Keep New Mexico Beautiful. Albeit small, the Joel Tito Ramírez Collection at the Public Library Albuquerque and Bernalillo County provides a peek into the University of New Mexico-educated artist’s accomplishments and interests. Correspondence, newspaper articles, and photographs provide wonderful context for his vivid interpretations of southwestern landscapes, unique edifices, and Hispanic and Native peoples.” – Tim Blevins, Manager, Special Collections Library

Access the finding aid here.


Austin History Center’s Community Archivist Program

Instead of a single collection, we have decided to focus our Southern Highlight on Austin History Center’s Community Archivist Program.

The Community Archivist Program at the Austin History Center is dedicated to collecting and preserving the history of underrepresented and marginalized groups in Austin and Travis County. This program strives to provide historical recognition and representation for the lives and experiences of Austin’s diverse communities by intentionally documenting the histories of African American, Latinx, and Asian Pacific American communities in Austin and Travis County.

Through community engagement and outreach initiatives, the Community Archivist Program acquires historical materials (such as personal and family documents and photographs, periodicals, oral histories, business records, etc.) to add to the Austin History Center’s historical collection. The program also develops programming and events to educate the general public about a more inclusive and diverse history of Austin and Travis County.

Access the Latinx Resource Guide here.

Welcome to the New PLASC Resources Page!

The Public Library Archives and Special Collection (PLASC) Steering Committee is excited to introduce our members to the revamped Resources Page on the SAA PLASC microsite. Starting in Fall 2021, the Steering Committee reviewed the previous resources, and found a great need to provide updated resources that were relevant to the needs of the PLASC membership. The Resources Page presents a list of reliable, useful, and up-to-date support information and resources to assist the needs and work of public library archives. 

The resources are arranged into seven main categories, developed from survey results conducted among the membership in Fall 2021. The resources categories are as follows: Policies and Procedures; Supervision and Management: Staff, Volunteers, Interns; Collection Development and Maintenance; Partnerships and Collaborations; Outreach: Social Media, Exhibits, Programming; Digital Assets and Databases; and Finding Aids and Cataloging. The titles, descriptions, sources, and links are provided within each category on the microsite page. 

The PLASC Steering Committee attempted to provide resources that reflected the types and locations of its membership. We included resources that had basic or short, average, and detailed content to help membership depending on the complexities and size of their archives. For example, we selected collection development policies that were short (four pages), average, and a little more detailed (nineteen pages), to offer members representative operations for the length and content of collection development policies should they need to update or create their own. 

The current resources on the PLASC Resources Page are not meant to be exhaustive, simply a start. We intend to update the resources regularly, and need our members help to do so. We are accepting suggestions for new resources to add to this list on an ongoing basis. To submit a resource, email PLASC at publibarchives@gmail.com with the subject “Suggested New Resource.” Explore the links on the Resources Page, and let us know how we can improve the resources that support the work of public library archives and special collections.

Get to Know PLASC: Catherine Oseas Champion, Secretary

Where do you work? What is your favorite part of your job?

I work at the Birmingham Public Library Department of Archives and Manuscripts. My favorite part of my job is processing! I most enjoy a project that makes collections as accessible as possible AND decreases the backlog. 

What’s a typical day like at your job?

Like for most Archivists, there is no typical day. Every day is a mix between programming, outreach, development, processing, digitizing, and helping the public. 

When and how did you become an archivist or become interested in archives?

I thought I wanted to be an Archaeologist. I started down that road, and when on a few digs in the Middle East. I tended to be relegated to the curation tent, and found I enjoyed the tagging and description as well as the conservation and preservation aspects. So I bandied Museum Studies vs. Archives around and landed on Archives!

What’s your favorite project or collection you’ve worked with in the past year?

Working with the Invisible Histories Project has been a rewarding experience the past few years. We are making more headway with collecting as well as helping to create curriculum for the local Universities.

What made you join PLASC Steering Committee?

I wanted to be more active in the field outside of my institution and a colleague I met some years ago was the President of PLASC at the time and got me involved. I have been a Member at Large ever since, and I am stepping into the role of Secretary!


The SAA Public Library Archives and Special Collections Section seeks additional members to serve in leadership positions for the next fiscal year, 2022-2023! Getting involved in PLASC leadership is a great way to engage in professional development and public service, and connect with colleagues throughout the United States.

Time commitment is approximately 3 hours/month, including attendance at a virtual monthly meeting. Annual meeting attendance is NOT required. Over the past year PLASC has been working to raise awareness of, and advocate for, the collections, staff, and work of public library archives and special collections. Some of our projects have included working to clean-up and relaunch our microsite resources page, developing a blog to replace our quarterly newsletter, and utilizing twitter to build community support throughout COVID. Students, new professionals, and mid-career welcome! You do not currently have to work at a public library to apply.

Available positions for 2022-2023:

Webmaster (1 year term) [position will also help to administer our blog and social media accounts]

At-Large Committee Member (2 year term)

–Detailed descriptions of each position are available on the PLASC website.

Interested candidates should submit the following information to PubLibArchives@gmail.com:

-Candidate Name

-Job Title and Institution

-Bio and Candidate Statement (1-2 paragraphs)

-Please reach out if you have any questions.

PLASC Virtual Section Meeting 7/20 @ 1pm CT

Please join us for the Public Library Archives and Special Collections section meeting! To gain access to the meeting, make sure that you register.

The Public Library Archives and Special Collection (PLASC) will be meeting on July 20th from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm CT. The meeting will begin with updates from PLASC Steering Committee members about our work over the past year. Then the section will be hosting talks by presenters who are currently working to increase the diversity of, and equitable access to, archival collections. 

James Scott – Librarian/Archivist Sacramento Room, Sacramento Public Library
Scott will address ongoing efforts to demystify the very “Ivied” appearance of the Sacramento Room with the introduction of art with non-Anglo European subjects/creators, cancelling fee schedules, building archival collections through reaching out to underrepresented community members (e.g. LGBTQ+), and growing access to the Sacramento Room by actively partnering with community groups (e.g. Asian Community Center Senior Services, Chinese American Citizens’ Alliance, Renaissance Society).

Catherine Oseas – Assistant Archivist, Birmingham Public Library
The Invisible Histories Project is a 501C3 based in Birmingham Al focused on collection, preservation, and access to LGBTQ Southern history. IHP has built a network of partners both regionally and nationally to help make these collections accessible to a wider public of community-based scholars and research institutions. One of those partners is the Birmingham Public Library Department of Archives and Manuscripts. This lightning talk will focus on the challenges and best practices for making LGBTQ archival collections accessible and how best to build these collections using grassroots organizing, community building strategies and the benefits of partnering with community archives/outreach organizations to build more holistic collections.

Joanna Kolosov – Special Collections Librarian & Archivist History & Genealogy Library, Sonoma County Library
Zayda Delgado – Supervising Librarian Sonoma County History & Genealogy Library, Sonoma County Library

It all started in 2020, when we rewrote the History & Genealogy Library’s 17-year-old collection development policy to address changing priorities stemming from Sonoma County Library’s new strategic plan, a process in which staff and the public were asked to “reimagine” what the library could be. Staff prioritized outreach to new library users and potential partners, balancing those with existing stakeholders. This led to creation of an online bilingual community memory archive to document daily life under the pandemic. Incorporating lessons learned from that project, we recently launched Here + Queer, Sonoma County – to uncover the rich and dynamic stories of queer culture and activism. In this lightning talk we will share how we got here, where we are heading, and the challenges we must overcome to become a library for all.

Questions? Email us at publibarchives@gmail.com