A Center for History

In my continuing education as an archivist reading professional books such as The Lone Arranger, taking SAA sanctioned Digital Archives Specialist classes, attending workshops provided by the state run Utah Historical Society, and volunteering at Utah Valley University archive I have been exposed to more and more ideas on how our library can expand our Special Collections and Manuscript Archive in the not so distant future.

Many of these ideas fall under digital archiving, however at this time it is both a physical and monetary impossibility. In spite of this our library can take advantage of hub archives for the Mountain West Digital Library such as the one located at UVU for digitization and digital hosting. Granted there are monetary considerations involved yet they are minimal when compared to going it alone.

One of my wild future plans includes a project that will gather oral histories concerning the creation of a library in Highland. The library was a desire of many citizens who worked tirelessly to make it happen, including creating a dedicated tax for the library. Oral histories are popular items these days and it can be easy to record and transcribe (just finding a computer and a quite spot would be a little more work). We could keep physical CDs at our library (one for storage and one for use which is what you do in small institutions like ours) and possibly adding some sort of offsite storage for backup.

A second future oral history project would involve the history of the city of Highland, Utah. While the city has only been incorporated since July 13, 1977 the area began being settled one hundred years prior in the 1870s. There is a lot of history that citizens can share about Highland and the surrounding area. Continuing with the history of Highland theme is another project that several other local libraries have already completed.

The history project involves digitizing photos owned by citizens of the city and the surrounding area and having them hosted again by the MWDL. Citizens will provide the metadata to the best of their ability while also keeping their personal family photographs. The world will then have access to a digital version of the cozy bedroom community of Highland, Utah nestled at the mouth of American Fork Canyon just north of Utah Lake.

My goal of these projects is to become the center for history in the community. While some citizens are great advocates of the library there are still a lingering and vocal group who think that a public library is a waste of money. These people need to expand their view of what all their public library can offer them. Not only can a library bet a “warehouse of books” but it can also be a portal to their very own history.

The advent and interest of digital archiving and oral histories has provided opportunities to apply for grant funding that will help with completing individual projects. Continued hosting would then hopefully be supported by ongoing budget planning. We could also use the projects to garner support of the archive and show a need for donations for the upkeep of local history.

According to such luminaries as author David McCullough (1776), Mental Floss (The Mental Floss History of the World: An Irreverent Romp through Civilization’s Best Bits), and noted poet, novelist and philosopher George Santayana (“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”) history is important. In Highland there currently is no historical society. The closest the community does have to a historical society is the International Society of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers (referred to as ISDUP or just DUP) that is more often and aptly concerned with the genealogy of its members than the history of the surrounding community.

Still there is an opportunity for outreach with the DUP that maintains a pioneer cabin located in Highland’s Heritage Park. My plan is to reach out to the local DUP and anyone else concerned about local history asking for their assistance in communicating to the community the value of creating a historical archive collection in the library. Thereby making the library Highland’s center for history.

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