Thomas Balch Library

Increase interest in library collections with easier access

photo: Thomas Balch Library interior
Image courtesy of the Thomas Balch Library.

Thomas Balch Library Centennial logo

"WorldShare certainly helped us achieve workflow efficiency. We save time when adding records for new titles and when deleting the old ones."

Alexandra S. Gressitt
Library Director, Thomas Balch Library

Since 1994, the Thomas Balch Library has been a steadfast member of the Leesburg, Virginia community, offering access to their special historical collections to all researchers. The library is a designated Underground Railroad research site and the only town-owned research library in the state. When staff, faced with growing collections, elected to ensure people could find their unique materials, they looked to WorldShare® Management Services (WMS).

“One of my goals over the last 20 years was to describe all of our holdings in one catalog and convert from Dewey to the Library of Congress classification system. Manuscripts, artifacts, artwork, and other media in our collections needed to be discoverable,” said Library Director Alexandra S. Gressitt. “With everything now having a catalog record researchers will make better use of their time while here.”

“I’ve never seen staff and researchers so happy with a change.”

Unify special collections without fear of loss

Project organization for the change required detailed planning and reevaluation of processes to make all materials available, regardless of the media in the library holdings. “So much of our descriptive information was unavailable to researchers. Our goal was to ensure it became accessible to everyone,” explained Gressitt.

Not only did WMS enable the library team to provide organized access to its collections for the local community, but it also helped them connect with other organizations around the world. WorldCat® Discovery, part of WMS, allows users to navigate the library’s unique holdings more easily. Accordingly, Gressitt found researchers from other institutions, like the University of Virginia and George Mason University, wanting to utilize newly described collections. In fact, requests and questions from researchers are now better informed than before. “Just because it’s local history doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an international audience,” noted Gressitt.

Engage the community to share knowledge

Since implementing WMS, the library staff has seen a greater appreciation for their resources from the community. Locally, schools, senior centers, and other community organizations have been enthusiastic with the catalog changes.

Services used by Thomas Balch Library

WorldShare Management Services


  • Leesburg, Virginia, USA

Library at a glance

  • Collections focus on Loudoun County, regional and Virginia history, genealogy, ethnic history and military history with special emphasis on the American Civil War. The library is a designated Underground Railroad research site
  • The library was established in 1922, became a county public library in the 1960s until 1994, and is now a public town library focused on special collections
  • Celebrated 100th anniversary in 2022

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