Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Inside the Archives: Special Collections provides more than just memorabilia

Thomas Tredway Library serves as a resource for students all across campus. Within its walls lies Special Collections. The seemingly small facility on the first floor is full of manuscripts, volumes of literature, realia and what Special Collections librarian Samantha Crisp calls “aha moments.”
These small moments are only one part of a greater whole. The Special Collections at Augustana range is a rare, yet spectacular, addition to the college. Not only is it a plentiful resource for research, it provides both factual and sometimes sentimental satisfaction for its patrons.
“I really like being able to connect a student with a historic document and see how it impacts them,” said Crisp.
Crisp, who has served as Special Collections librarian since June 2014, has her own personal favorites as well.
“One of my favorites would have to be the records of the National Organization of Women-Quad Cities chapter,” said Crisp. “It paints a great picture of what women’s rights looks liked in the 80s.”
With 2,500 linear feet of manuscript materials, 20,000 volumes and still more to process, it’s hard to choose just one collection. For a liberal arts college, Augustana has a sizable special collections within its library system.
What makes Augustana’s collection unique is that it is tailored for both student and faculty use, serving as an interactive resource for the community.
“We’re really connected on campus,” said Crisp. “More so than other college archives.”
Crisp goes the extra mile by teaching, as well as serving in her role in Special Collections. By embracing classes, she is able to reach approximately 800 students each year, both in class and individually.
While reactions to the collection are often dependent upon the student, most Augustana students leave intrigued and genuinely interested in the many items and information housed on the first floor. It’s like Augustana’s own version of the Chamber of Secrets.
With such a large collection comes long-term challenges and goals. Crisp and the Special Collections staff have begun the digitization of the collection, a project that will take years.
“We’ve just now started a digitization program,” said Crisp. “We’re prioritizing the highest use collections.”
Another project includes processing many of the uncatalogued items, like manuscripts, that are in the collection. Cataloguing includes sorting through materials and providing a summary, among other jobs.
Crisp hopes to tackle the 30 percent of the collection that remains unprocessed. It requires a dedication to detail, as well as diligence.
While Special Collections has a breadth of items covering topics like botany, gemology and literature. It also houses Augustana’s history.
From every yearbook published to over 10,000 photographs of the college (from its establishment all the way to the present), the collection is home to all things Augustana.
“We have a lot of Augie memorabilia,” said Crisp. “Pennants, stickers, band uniforms and more.”
However, there’s been a slight dip in the recent years concerning contributions from student groups. While meeting minutes and flyers are going digital, they still have historical and even research value and can be donated to the collection.
The lack of documentation in recent years is proving to be discouraging.
“There’s going to be a gap there,” said Crisp. “It might be disappointing to future audiences.”
Special Collections is hoping to collect items like scrapbooks, meeting minutes, flyers from events, newspaper clippings, composite photos, and more.
“Anyone and everyone can bring their records,” said Crisp. “Anything that your group creates is probably going to have high research value.”
While the documents may seem trivial to contribute now, their value increases over the years.
“There’s a lot you can learn,” said Crisp, “but there’s also a lot of sentimental and emotional impact. I’ve had several students come across their parents’ pictures in the yearbook, and those are the moments I really enjoy.”
With hopes to gain documents from new organizations, especially those documenting Augustana’s social progress, Special Collections is encouraging student groups to donate now.
Augustana has made advancements concerning women’s rights, the LGBT community, all of which are important to document within the archives for future use and observation.
After all, Special Collections holds more than just information and historical items; rather, it houses the memories of old and the pontential for new discoveries.

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Inside the Archives: Special Collections provides more than just memorabilia