Special Librarians Discussion Report

Regional discussion on issues of organizations having little or no space to store and display collections was held at the Western New York Library Resources Council yesterday.

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Over 20 attendees from organizations in the Buffalo Niagara region heard from speakers representing three different “space sharing” experiences: Hamburg municipal governments (Brian Wielinski), The Niagara Arts & Cultural Center (the NACC; Rachel  Macklin Olszewski) and the Buffalo Irish Genealogical Society (BIGS) at the Heritage Discovery Center (Diane Blaser and Donna Shine). Brian described how four different government entities share and manage a physical records storage space in Hamburg, Rachel described the genesis of the NACC and how it has evolved into an anchor for the community, offering space for individuals and organizations in the performing arts, music, culture, folk art, and more; Donna and Diane shared their experiences at the Heritage Discovery Center where their BIGS collection is housed in a physical space owned by the WNY Railway Society as part of an exchange in services that the Railway group gets help from them in cataloging their railroad collections.

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Discussion topics included grants and other funding sources for building physical spaces; the pros and cons of owning versus renting a physical space; balancing exhibit, storage and processing spaces; ways that organizations can connect among themselves and with other community groups to identify common interests and collecting strengths, facilitating moving towards a shared space experience and more! One main thought that came out of the event was that perhaps there is a need to conduct a major assessment of collections content across the region. Knowing what collections are held by different organizations (what topics or subjects they cover) as well as physical attributes like volume of materials, physical condition, degree to which a collection is processed  and or is cataloged in some fashion – all this could go a long way towards mobilizing a plan of action.

What are your thoughts on sharing space? How much room do you have left to house your collection, especially if it continues to grow or the space is being re-purposed for other uses….join the conversation!

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