One of my favorite mountain expressions is, “I ain’t seen you in a month of Sundays!” In fact, HeardTell readers, it’s been a little more than a “month of Sundays” since we last posted! Our last post went live in July 2020.
So, really, it’s been TWO months of Sundays!
You might wonder, have we been sitting around doing nothing all this time? Well, no. In fact, we have been a busy bunch here on the lower level of Pack Memorial Library.
If you’ve been keeping up with us via other channels like Facebook, Instagram, or the Buncombe County Website, you probably know that North Carolina Room (now Buncombe County Special Collections) took advantage of our Covid closure to take on some big projects in our reading room and in the archives themselves.
Beginning in April 2020 we partnered with Lydia See of Engaging Collections and Honey Simone of Different Wrld to reimagine our space so that it is more comfortable, welcoming, and accessible. This year-long joint effort between the library and community partners has been a great success. We’re seeing a more diverse group of patrons in Special Collections on a regular basis, and we’re so excited to continue to make our library a space everyone in our community can enjoy.
We held an official reopening in late June 2021. The event was like nothing we’d ever done before – an open house to show off Honey’s “Carolina Record Shop” installation complete with a DJ. It was so encouraging to see an intergenerational group of folks sharing stories and ideas about our community’s past, present, and future.
After the grand opening celebration, we continued full speed ahead with other projects like completing a database migration. You’ve probably seen our new collections management system, ArchivEra, in action already. ArchivEra has allowed us to begin addressing long-term issues with our collections, including the creation of consolidated finding aids and more detailed location tracking. We’ve heard from many of you about these changes, and some frustrations that have come with using the new system, and we really appreciate your feedback! As with any big system migration, we’re still discovering and sorting out bugs and kinks. The Special Collections team is becoming more familiar with this database each and every day, and soon we’ll record a “how to” guide so our patrons can become more familiar with this new system.
Besides the transition to new software, we also welcomed City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy students Nancy and Zoe who worked together to process and research the Urban Trail collection in anticipation of programming around the trail coming to the library some time over the next year.
On their last day with us, the pair reflected on their time in the archives. You can read about their experiences here.
In the workroom (or “the vault” as we sometimes jokingly call it) we’ve been making lots of moves as well. In late fall 2020 we started to process of deaccessioning and transferring the Six Associates architectural drawing collection to our friends at the North Carolina Western Regional Archives. This collection came to us in the late 1990s and was absolutely massive, taking up a huge amount of space in out relatively small workroom. Heather South and her team are working hard on transferring the items into their collection. We know the WRA will be a great home for these plans!
So what is coming down the line for the fall season at Buncombe County Special Collections? Since we’re still living in uncertain times, for right now, in-person programming will continue to be limited. We’re looking forward to planning some virtual programs for the fall and winter, including recognizing the Library system’s 60th anniversary of integration at the end of September.
Soon, we’ll also share some exciting announcements about the future of HeardTell and new projects from the Friends of Buncombe County Special Collections… There are some really exciting things coming down the line, and I can’t wait to share them with you!
If you’d like to read more about the things we’ve accomplished in Special Collections over the last year, take a look at these articles from staff and collaborators:
We promise it won’t be a “month of Sundays” before you hear from us again!
Katherine Cutshall, Collections Manager