Inventorying Local History Materials


All things start with an inventory

Identifying what local history materials we have - what formats and types, how much of it, what titles are shared between libraries or other organizations, what is already cataloged, what is already indexed or other organized (or is not!) - is the critical first step we must take before making any other decisions about our local history collections.

Knowing what we have will allow us to determine:
  • priorities for indexing, cataloging, digitization, preservation
  • how to provide access
  • preservation needs
  • timelines and goals
  • equipment and resouces
  • collection audiences
  • community partners
  • collection policies

Inventorying cataloged materials

I suggest starting your inventory with materials that have already been cataloged! This will be easier and have the most immediate return on investment!

  1. Run a Reports Shelflist By Shelf Location report using the location "Local History"
  2. Take the list to your local history shelves and make sure that the materials on your list are in your collection
  3. Make note of any discrepancies

ALERT! If your cataloged local history materials are organized in some other way, contact Lindsay to figure out a custom shelf list report

Extra credit: check out the combined shelf list to see if other libraries have copies of the same titles

Inventorying uncataloged materials

Doing these inventories is important, but should not stress anybody out!
  1. Start general
    1. Identify general types of materials - newspapers, microfilm, bound volumes, clipping files, ephemera, audio, video, etc.
    2. Estimate or count how many (for small ehpemera materials count by container/set/etc.) of each type
    3. Note titles, collections, sets - ex: "My Town herald", "Soandso Family Papers", "Local Church's Board Minutes, 1920-27"
  2. Pick one group of materials to start with - I suggest newspeprs
    1. Organize papers by title
    2. Put in date order
    3. Note gaps
    4. Note condition
    5. Check against the historical newspapers list
    6. Fill out cataloging request form [forthcoming]
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