Random Thoughts: Change, Primary Sources & Other Stuff

Too valuable to weed: Local history and primary sources

Posted on: April 21, 2011

Students in an a class I teach have been discussing the necessity of weeding media center collections.  They asked  what shouldn’t be weeded?  Weeding does wonders for a media center’s collection.  It ensures students’ access to better materials, improves the collections’ appearance and makes way for new materials on the shelves.   But– some materials should almost always be kept. I place most materials about local history and the local community at the top of the list of materials to hang on to.  My list includes fiction and non fiction, booklets, pamphlets,  newspapers covering significant local events, print and electronic resources and even non-print materials in older formats.   Resources written or produced by local authors are also worthy of keeping. If space is short put the materials in storage or create a local history archives for future use.

Otters StoryOne book we made sure we hung onto, even when it was in very poor condition is Emil Lier’s, An Otter’s Story  a story written by a county resident  The book tells the story of  Mississippi river otters trained and kept on a farm for visitors to enjoy outside of Winona, Minnesota.   Thousands of children visited the Otter Farm in the 1950’s early 60’s.  Children still enjoy the book and learning about these animals. The otters even appear  in Tales of the Road, a DVD chock-full of primary source photos, interviews and videos about life along U.S. Highway 61 in Minnesota. (Palisade Productions, 2009)

Students enjoying school scrapbookSchool scrapbooks or photo albums may be stored in the media center.  Students love looking at them; they are often impossible to replace. Booklets and pamphlets written by local residents were invaluable to middle school students studying local history They were well-worn; some were even produced on a typewriter, but they provided the information students needed.
Local newspapers that provide coverage of significant events are keepers.  Students enjoy them. 
Hang on to these primary source  treasures.

Want to learn more about using local history resources and utilizing community resources ? Local History is a favorite module in Teaching with Primary Sources, an online course that begins in June.
Comments from Past Students
Register Online: http://www.uwstout.edu/soe/profdev/register.cfm
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