Discovering Our Hidden Resources

On the move: Arabbers on Baltimore streets (Sept-Oct 1969) 
The Special Collections Department is often an overlooked resource at Langsdale Library. It doesn’t help that it is located on the fourth floor, housed behind locked doors and open by appointment only.  However, the staff of three archivists is work diligently to make the treasures to be found within more accessible.  There are 134 individual archival collections, the majority of these related to the making of the modern city of Baltimore. Collectively they document the built environment, civic groups, public agencies, and nonprofit organizations from 20th century Baltimore City. Among the holdings can be found: oral histories, photographs, television news footage, architectural plans, and the papers of prominent Baltimore citizens.
As part of increasing awareness and promotion of the resources several digital initiatives over the last couple of years have been undertaken.  These range from completely digitized archival collections to select photographs and news footage on flickr.  Another impetus for improving access is researcher interest, recently MICA professor Mikita Brottman wrote about her experiences with this regard while trying to learn about the history of the Belvedere Hotel.  It was her use of this collection that led the staff to enhance the collection overview and creating a finding aid on the department’s website.  Collection overviews have also been created for all 134 collections and this information will soon be available in the library’s catalog.

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