Session Description

This poster aims to provide attendees with a list of guidelines to consider when using an archival exhibit as a method of outreach, along with fostering a broader discussion of community college libraries, and the promotional value of their small or minimally processed archival collections.

Type of Library

Community College Library


community college libraries, archival collections, outreach, history, archives


May 4th, 2:30 PM May 4th, 3:15 PM

Displaying the Past: Guidelines for Outreach Using Archival Collections

Floor 2

In the summer of 2017, our community college library had the opportunity to partner with a local historical society to produce an exhibit about the history of the college in the historical society’s welcome center. With no dedicated archivist or outreach librarian, two research and instruction librarians with archives experience from previous employment were tasked with leading and implementing this project with little precedent.

Our archive is relatively new, and still in the early stages of development. Most collections are minimally processed and no electronic finding aids exist to aid in search and retrieval efforts. Additionally, with limited display space of our own, archival display materials are limited. In order to design this exhibit, the librarians had to inventory and identify potential archival sources for display, address preservation concerns, obtain display equipment, coordinate installation with the historical society, work with college public relations and plan an opening reception. With future outreach exhibits planned, we wanted to use what we learned in the process to make subsequent outreach exhibits easier to plan and execute.

This poster will provide attendees with a list of guidelines to consider when creating an exhibit with an external partner based on what was learned as we worked through the exhibit making process. While the exhibit was an overall success, there were many bumps in the road and lessons learned to share with conference goers. Attendees will walk away with an understanding of pitfalls to avoid as well as recommended best practices for librarians using an exhibit for outreach. This poster presentation will also demonstrate that librarians should not let inexperience or minimally processed collections be a barrier to establishing meaningful community connections.


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