Local History Reference Collections for Public Libraries. By Kathy Marquis and Leslie Waggener. Chicago: ALA, 2015. 160 p. Paper $55.00 (ISBN 978-0-8389-1331-4).

This book provides information and insight to help public libraries develop, maintain, and market local history reference collections (LHRCs). Public libraries frequently are given unpublished materials, and librarians may be reluctant to offend anyone by not accepting their gift. The authors explain how to develop an LHRC collection policy focused on published rather than unpublished material; such a policy provides a way to kindly reject materials that do not maintain the standards that are needed for developing a high-quality LHRC. The authors note that LHRC materials need not be archival or relegated to in-library use only, but can be made readily available to patrons. Librarians “can provide an invaluable resource to [their] patrons without taking on the additional expense, training, special housing, and staffing that an archival collection entails. It allows [them] to place the emphasis on ease of use, programming, and streamlined operation that makes sense in many public library environments” (xiv). This book can help librarians create collections of published materials that highlight local history and provide information about the area, community, and culture.

The book is grouped into nine chapters, the first of which covers current trends, practices, and concerns. Chapter 2 explains the difference between archival collections and LHRCs. The next three chapters discuss collection development, library mission statements, audience, and collaboration with other organizations. Chapters 6 and 7 explain what facilities are required to house an LHRC and how to preserve materials. The final three chapters discuss reference, access, marketing, outreach, and the virtual LHRC. Many chapters begin with a personal story related to the topic, followed by a concise yet thorough explanation of the topic, and conclude with a notes section that specifies resources for further reading. Additionally, this book explains how to coordinate, collaborate, and cooperate with other regional, university, and state libraries that maintain their own local history collections. This book includes a detailed bibliography, an index, and appendixes that include a survey, ALA guidelines, templates for useful documents, a genealogy training worksheet, and items found in the public domain or creative commons.

This book is a great resource for public librarians, explaining how to develop, maintain, market, and access a LHRC. Well written and thoroughly researched, the authors have given us a simple and easy-to-use book. This reviewer, a history buff, thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it for librarians who wants to learn how to develop an LHRC and understand how to serve their communities with the best their libraries have to offer.—Janet A. Tillotson, Library Director, Towanda Public Library, Towanda, Kansas


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