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From Atlas Obscura:
“When the writer Deborah Fallows toured smaller and midsize communities in the United States in 2016, she made sure to make the same stop in every city and town: the local public library. Libraries were never just plain old book-lenders, she learned, and they certainly aren’t now. Most provide residents with internet access, educational opportunities, and even refuge during times of meteorological or civic crisis. They use their archives to hold onto local history, and their programming and decor to reflect a vision of the future.
A town or city’s Main Street or Chamber of Commerce reveals its body politic, writes Fallows, but “the visit to the public library reveal[s] its heart and soul.” These days, many of these hearts and souls are full of unexpected stuff—including stuff that, if you want, you can take home with you for a few weeks. In the spirit of civic introspection, here are some of America’s most surprising current circulating collections, from art to umbrellas.”
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Primary Research Group has published the International Survey of Research University Faculty: Use of Academic Library Special Collections, ISBN 978-157440-439-5
The study presents data from a survey of 500+ faculty at more than 50 major research universities in the USA, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom & Ireland about their use and evaluation of academic library special collections in rare books & documents, film & video, music, photography, rare biological specimens, personal archives, posters and guidebooks and other commercial materials, oral history and many other areas. The report presents data separately for use of special collections at one’s own university and for use of special collections at other institutions. The study also gives data on the percentage of faculty that recommend special collections to students, other faculty or other parties. Survey participants name some of their favorite special collections and rate their general level of satisfaction with academic library special collections.
Data in the 196-page study is broken out by more than 10 criteria including but not limited to academic title, age, gender, national origin of university, public/private status, teaching load, tenure status, university ranking and other variables.
Just a few of the report’s many findings are that:
- 21.47% of faculty in the Media and Visual and Performing Arts fields accessed photography special collections from outside their institution in the past three years, the most in the sample, followed by those in the Literature and Language fields, 10.00%.
- Satisfaction with special collections did not vary widely with institution size or type, or with respondent age, gender, political views, or academic field. However, respondents from Canadian universities were relatively more satisfied than were those from other countries with their institution’s special collections,
- More than a quarter of those age 60 and over found special collections just as easy or easier to find and use than standard library collections, compared to just 11.43% of respondents age 30 and under.
- Respondents to the far left of the political spectrum reported the highest use special collections based on personal archives or estates, 7.61%, but otherwise political views had no clear impact on utilization of personal archives or estates.
- 9.73% of respondents teaching more than two courses in the past semester were dissatisfied with levels of online access to collections of catalogs, posters, guides and other commercial materials, compared to less than 3.5% of those teaching two courses or less.For further information view our website at www.PrimaryResearch.com.