6/28/17

LOCAL HISTORY AT THE LIBRARY by Jon Walker

Our community enjoys a rich and diverse history.  This is the story of the people and events helping to shape the saga of this region over many generations.  It is the multi-stranded narrative of the indigenous and the immigrant, the pioneer and the settler, the mover and the follower, the women, the men, and the children who have lived and visited here throughout the years.  PCCLD is pleased to help preserve record of this past for study and review by scholars and investigators both today and for the future. 
The Rawlings Library has a special role in this endeavor with highly qualified professionals working there collaboratively in preserving and organizing access to local primary source materials.  These archival pieces include eyewitness accounts, statistical data, audio and video recordings, writings and speeches, art objects, and more.  They encompass important secondary and tertiary historical resources, too. 
All this is principally collected on the third floor of the Rawlings Library.  We call these our Special Collections.  It is a name given for good reason.  This remarkable area of the Rawlings Library incorporates a singular vault, which serves as a secure room to protect many of the rare and significant documents and artifacts.  The area also has other distinctive furnishings and equipment to better safeguard the precious materials located there.  It should be noted that selected items of this type also are part of more modest holdings located in many of the branch libraries of the district. 
The cultural heritage represented by this collection assures its vitality to researchers and students today and likely so for years to come.  PCCLD cherishs its role in helping to guarantee this legacy is thoughtfully maintained and curated.  We invest heavily to continue to ensure it is so.  This duty is one key part of the library district’s strategic vision of service to our community.  Not only do we employ qualified and well-trained staff dedicated to the stewardship of these materials and maintain apt environmental conditions to better secure their appropriate preservation, but today we also spend funds on modern computer technology critical to this effort.  PCCLD in recent years is working evermore diligently in just this manner.  The results show with new digital copies now available of many high-value historical treasures from our collections.  This provides for both better conservation yet more widely available access via the library district’s website.  A great example of this type work is found here: http://pcclddigitalcollection.contentdm.oclc.org/
It requires dedicated time and expertise for PCCLD to collect and curate our history plus digitize and provide online finding aids for these materials.  More than 25 skilled librarians work throughout the library district.  We also engage professionals who have earned certifications and/or advanced degrees with emphasis in archival management, museum science, genealogy, and more.  This unique group of individuals, along with the aid of able support staff, focus meaningful attention to help preserve and support public access to local materials chronicling our past.  Under the capable leadership of Maria Sanchez-Tucker, who oversees the library district’s special collections and museum services, the list of PCCLD contributions in recent years to local history conservation and promotion efforts is notable.  Charlene Garcia-Simms, who serves as PCCLD’s special collections librarian and genealogy expert, also is key to this effort. 
The achievements are significant.  Here are some important recent examples:
·         Archiving a recent donation of the full collection of the bound editions of the local newspaper of record—today’s Pueblo Chieftain—dating from the middle of the nineteenth century, and digitizing significant portions of this resource in collaboration with the newspaper’s ownership, a local foundation, the Colorado State Library, and History Colorado

  • ·         Promoting PCCLD collection artifacts for statewide recognition (such as the library’s original copy of famous American frontiersman Kit Carson’s Last Will and Testament)
  • ·         Sponsoring scholarship and publication of noteworthy books like Spanish/Mexican Legacy of Latinos in Pueblo County (2012) and Images of America: Pueblo (2017)
  • ·         Commissioning Corazon del Pueblo, an artpiece located on the Rawlings Library second floor visually depicting local latino history in the Mexican Muralist tradition
  • ·         Collecting a gift of the full range of the Colorado Rock Art Association archives
  • ·         Producing community history walls for the Greenhorn Valley Library, the Giodone Library, and the Lucero Library
  • ·         Hosting the Pueblo West history collection at the Pueblo West Library
  • ·         Supporting local programming in partnership with nationally-prominent organizations like the Smithsonian Institution, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, the American Library Association, and many more
  • ·         Collaborating with numerous local organizations on this work, which includes, but is not limited to, Colorado State University-Pueblo, the Steelworks Museum of the West, the El Pueblo History Museum, Colorado Humanities, Pueblo Archaelogical & Historical Society, and the Pueblo Heritage Museum. 
PCCLD’s investment in helping to preserve and educate the public about our past is weighty, ongoing, and growing.  The archives and local history efforts here are in good hands now and should continue to grow and improve for the forseeable future. 

LOCAL HISTORY AT THE LIBRARY by Jon Walker

Our community enjoys a rich and diverse history.  This is the story of the people and events helping to shape the saga of this region over ...