Challenges in Representing Local Image Collections: The Case of the Titusville Historical Society

Challenges in Representing Local Image Collections: The Case of the Titusville Historical Society

Rhonda L. Clark (Clarion University of Pennsylvania, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6543-9.ch072

Abstract

Local history and genealogical collections provide valuable information to the public, when adequate reference services and access to the collection are provided. Arranging such access presents numerous challenges for small historical societies and local public libraries that often lack the staffing, training, and resources available to larger organizations. The evolution of digitized records to represent photographic and other records presents even greater obstacles to the staff of small repositories. The Titusville Historical Society presents a useful case study of the decision-making process utilized in determining what directions are most desirable and feasible for small, local repositories. The organization's makeup, staffing, and resources are overviewed and the digital environment described for similar organizations within its own and five surrounding counties. The Historical Society membership's goals and abilities are utilized in making a final judgment as to the best process for providing access to collections.
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Setting The Stage

The Society operates most of its annual activities with a core of volunteers that number approximately fifteen people. In the past year, for example, the Society planned and conducted an annual genealogy conference, a “One-Day Museum” for area historical societies, and a trip to historic sites. In addition, members are present at booths for the annual Oil Festival and Earth Day. The Society sends volunteers to numerous city-wide activities. It produces a newsletter twice a year and responds to email and mail requests at a stable Gmail account and Post Office Box. Though there is no Society phone, the private phone numbers of various members are listed on a variety of directory Websites for historical societies; therefore, it is common for the current and past presidents to receive numerous cold calls requesting genealogical information, house history data, and access to collection photographs. These members work together and through email with other society members, as well as with the local public library, to provide assistance. The Society is challenged by the need to recruit new members who have time and resources to donate. In addition, the Society is limited by its small operating budget. While fundraising efforts provide support for the notable activities sponsored by the Society, there is little funding available for technology costs, as evidenced by the regular financial reports in meeting minutes (Fiely, 2012).

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