Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Incorporating a museum reference collection

Before the Alaska State Museum was demolished in 2014, its reference collection of over 2000 books, periodicals, videos, and other resources was boxed up and stored at the Alaska State Library. The Museum has not had a dedicated librarian for many years, so management of the reference library had been neglected for some time.
Seventy-four boxes contained the Museum reference collection, which has been stored in the Alaska State Library for nearly two years.

As part of the integration of the State Library, Archives, and Museum, the Museum's reference collection will be managed by the Alaska State Library in the new Kashevaroff SLAM. In order to integrate this collection, we've been inventorying it, updating records, and repairing, re-covering, or applying Mylar jackets to make them shelf-ready.

Although this capsule collection will not circulate, anyone will be able to look at it in the library, and many of the books are also available in the Library's circulating collection. SLAM visitors will be able to delve further into topics that they encounter in the Museum's exhibits, and this collection will be a first stop for resources about Alaska's history, art, and cultures.
A word cloud of the titles and authors of the Museum reference collection.
What kind of books are in this collection? As you can see from the word cloud above, "Alaska" is the common theme, but books about museums, exhibitions, Alaska Native people, and history are well represented. Although it doesn't show up in the word cloud, there is also a significant natural history section with books about the plants, animals, and geology of Alaska, Canada, and the Arctic.

Preparing this collection has broadened my perspective about what's covered by the Alaska State Museum's exhibits and artifact collections. Many of the books in this reference collection were donated by staff or volunteers who felt that they were particularly valuable or interesting, so in many ways it is a user-curated collection. We look forward to making it available in the Kashevaroff State Library, Archives, and Museum when we move next year.

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