Strengthening the Small Library: Creating Opportunities for Archives Development

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Association of College and Research Libraries

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Academic libraries naturally support the people and programs at their home institution. For many libraries, however, another area of that support involves collaboration with and outreach to the general public. There are many ways an academic library can work with local organizations. These partnerships are often referred to as “town-and-gown” relationships, and they can give both communities access to services and materials they may not otherwise be able to afford. Town-and-gown relationships can bring new kinds of patrons and recognition to campus or enable financial support for large, shared projects. In small or rural communities where resources are not necessarily centralized and expanded options for support may be limited, strong town-and-gown relationships can be particularly helpful. Not only do these partnerships increase access for small communities, but they also create new relationships among a network of vital institutions. For an academic library in this setting, these local affiliations can give the flexible library opportunities that may otherwise come with a hefty price tag or time-consuming negotiations. In recent years, the Lima Campus Library realized the need for a campus archive. Without one, documentation on campus history was sparse and often disorganized, and we quickly realized that the campus often relied on hearsay rather than documentation when it came to its own past. However, the campus did not have the dedicated staff or funding to handle such a large undertaking. What it did have was a strong town-and-gown relationship with the Lima community and public institution partners that could offer invaluable support. With help from community partners and utilizing the flexibility of the small library, the Lima Campus Library was able to build the archive slowly and affordably, inured to issues like budget cuts and staff turnover. That archive then gave the library more opportunities to demonstrate its value to both the academic and the local communities.



regional campus libraries, small libraries, archives


Schneider, Tina, and Cleary, Calvin. "Strengthening the Small Library: Creating Opportunities for Archives Development." In The Small and Rural Academic Library: Leveraging Resources and Overcoming Limitations. Edited by Kaetrena Davis Kendrick and Deborah Tritt. 23-38. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2016.