The Upper Arlington Public Library connects with its community through CONTENTdm

The Upper Arlington Public Library has been using CONTENTdm since 2003 to showcase its digital library, the UA Archives, and to help create strong ties between the library and the community. Through the UA Archives, the library partners with local organizations and individuals to digitally preserve their community’s historical resources and make them available online.

The library works with many different community organizations, and their partnerships continue to expand. The library currently houses the entire physical archives for the Upper Arlington Historical Society. Sara Klein, Digital Archives Coordinator for the library, serves on the historical society’s board, and she is also working with an Ohio author to put together a book on Upper Arlington history to celebrate the city’s centennial in 2018.

The library likes the flexibility that CONTENTdm offers, which allows staff to create different collections for specific audiences and needs. The physical collections within the Upper Arlington community can be difficult to access because they are housed in different locations, but CONTENTdm provides one central location where patrons and researchers can access all of these collections from anywhere. At the same time, the library is able to preserve the irreplaceable physical collections that would quickly deteriorate with use.

CONTENTdm has also been a bridge between Upper Arlington students and local history resources available at the library. Eighth grade students have created walking tours using a popular online mapping tool to map to local history sites that include links to CONTENTdm. Third and eighth graders take field trips to visit Upper Arlington’s historical sites. The library is one of the stops on the field trip, and students get an opportunity to see the physical archives and the digitization office, and learn how CONTENTdm helps create an accessible digital library.

A discovery kit that focuses on what life was like in the community 100 years ago is also available in the library’s youth services department. The kit contains laminated images and captions from the library’s CONTENTdm collection, books and games that teachers can use to teach lessons on local history. Children become interested in history by experiencing CONTENTdm artifacts in these kits. Sara is regularly asked by elementary and middle school teachers to talk to students about what it’s like to be a historian, and she shares resources from CONTENTdm.

Upper Arlington High School students also engaged in a project that required incoming freshmen to interview a family member or friend and write about an interesting event in their interviewee’s life. The best essays were published as an anthology in CONTENTdm to share with other students and the community. The stories cover many different topics of historic interest, including an interview with a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp. This was such a successful collaboration between the school and the library that it will become an annual project. In addition, the library recently hosted a high school intern who spent her senior year working with their digital archives. They are also working with teachers across the school district to find ways for students to do more work related to local history that uses resources from CONTENTdm.

Digitized item from Upper Arlington Public Library's collection