The Geneseo community recently celebrated the reopening of the Archives and Special Collections area in Milne Library, which contains publications written by staff and alumni as well as rare historical collections.
“We are always welcoming feedback of what people would like to do,” said Library Director Cyril Oberlander. “It could be history, literature, English, creative writing and more. There are many opportunities for people to work with local history collections.”
The collections area, which opened on Thursday Oct. 11, includes thousands of items that are accessible through the GLOCAT online catalog or a reference librarian. Library staff and student assistants worked over the summer sorting and organizing over 214 tons of material to construct the current collection.
The items themselves are behind an innovative ultraviolet-filtered glass enclosure. In addition, the area has new study rooms equipped to serve as teaching and learning labs for academic and community researchers. The Special Collections area is located on the lower level of Milne Library.
The new area contains seven different sections to make a comprehensive database for diverse topics. The Genesee Valley Historical Collection includes nearly 6,000 accessible items that encompass the eight counties that surround the Genesee River. The Wadsworth Collection, for example, holds over 50,000 papers from the Wadsworth family of Geneseo.
The Walter Harding Collection provides the late Geneseo professor’s writings on Henry David Thoreau and transcendentalism, and the Geneseo Authors Hall houses Geneseo staff, faculty and alumni publications.
The Carl Schmidt Collection houses works on local historical architecture. There is also the “X” Special Collection of rare books and a College Archives Collection.
According to a press release from the school, Milne Library is looking to provide a variety of publishing services as part of its initiative to foster scholarly communications. Milne embarked on its first digital publishing venture with the reprint of “The Recollections of 3 Rebel Prisons” by Col. G.G. Prey.
Prior to this venture, only three copies of the book were available in the world. Now the book will be available for free online and a print version can be purchased on Amazon.com. Part of the book proceeds go to special collections for purchasing new research materials.
“We want people to actually work with it so that the world will know what’s in Special Collections,” said Oberlander.
According to Oberlander, Special Collections presents an opportunity for undergraduate researchers to be recognized in print. He said that the library might create a stipend or award for outstanding research with Special Collections.
“Anything that’s written by students that goes through a publishing venue becomes unique,” said Oberlander. “It can help other people understand the area, the people, the past and make connections with what’s going on today.”