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Tyrrell Historical Library continues access to collections with CONTENTdm after Hurricane Harvey

In 2011, staff at the Tyrrell Historical Library in Beaumont, Texas, began managing their digital collections with the hosted version of CONTENTdm because they liked the technical support offered by OCLC. The staff started by digitizing two large collections: the General Photographic Archives, which consist of 3,677 photographs that pertain to the history of the greater Beaumont area, and the John H. Walker Papers, which focus on the history and people of Beaumont and the outlying rural area situated in Jefferson and Orange counties. The library currently has 80 digitized collections with more than 49,000 items.

In 2014, the library was awarded a TexTreasures grant, which allowed the staff to digitize and provide historical background information related to the Melody Maids Collection. The group was a girl’s choir that traveled to perform for military personnel from 1942 to 1972.

After Hurricane Harvey in 2017, the library had to close temporarily because of mold that formed in the main reading room after the building lost electricity during a storm. While none of the physical collections were damaged, the reading room needed to be thoroughly cleaned. Bill Grace, Branch Manager, said that CONTENTdm has enabled the library to continue to provide access to approximately one-third of its collections during this period. He also explained that CONTENTdm has proven to be a valuable tool for preserving history, as it has shown local citizens the importance of their own personal collections and led to donations of materials to the library, which has aided in collection development.

While the library is closed for cleanup, the library staff have worked on digitizing additional collections, including the Roy H. Towell, Jr., Papers, the Neches River Festival Records, the Magnolia Garden Club Records, and others.

When the library reopens, it will be partnering with other genealogical research organizations in the area to conduct an outreach program, and the staff are very much looking forward to this program.