A Librarian in New Orleans: Tulane’s Southeastern Architectural Archive

My recent trip back to New Orleans wasn’t only about po’boys and Abita beer. It was partly a professional trip to learn a little more about some of the city’s unique library and archive collections. During the trip I visited Tulane’s Southeastern Architectural Archive, the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, and the city’s Notarial Archive.

THE SOUTHEASTERN ARCHITECTURAL ARCHIVE

Tulane’s Southeastern Architectural Archive (SEAA) is one of the largest repositories of architectural records in the southern United States. It’s housed in Jones Hall, Tulane’s special collections building which also holds the university’s Louisiana Research Collection and the Jazz Archives.

The SEAA contains a large collection of historic New Orleans Sanborn Maps and city directories dating back to the 1880s,and contains numerous collections of architectural plans from many of the region’s prominent architects. One of the most interesting things at the SEAA are plans and sketches from the firms that designed and built many of the city’s iconic above-ground tombs and mausoleums. These firms, according to Keli Rylance, Head Archivist of the SEAA, would consult with their clients (families or estates) to customize the design of these often elaborate grave sites.

The SEAA has had a huge increase in usage in post-Katrina New Orleans. According to Keli many of the new users are people coming to access historic architectural plans to research their properties or homes that were destroyed during Katrina. Many of the new patrons, says Keli, are also law firms and attorneys who are doing research to settle property disputes. The SEAA now serves approximately 1200 visitors each year.

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Next door to the SEAA are Tulane’s Jazz Archives. Here’s a picture of some vintage audio equipment in the Jazz Archives.

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THE HOWARD TILTON MEMORIAL LIBRARY

At the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library I got a quick tour from my friend Anthony D. who works in the library. The Howard-Tilton Library is the university’s main library and it was pretty heavily damaged during Katrina. Pre-Katrina the basement used to house offices and collections, and when you go downstairs you can still see the flood water line which still stained on the building’s marble walls about 8 feet above the floor. Since Katrina the library’s been undergoing a major renovation and reorganization–the library now does not store any materials in its basement.

Here’s an item that I particularly enjoyed. It’s from a display of Cuban materials in the library’s Latin American collection.

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.Stay tuned for Part 2 of “A Librarian in New Orleans: The New Orleans Notarial Archive”

UCLA’s Center for Primary Research and Training

During the spring 2010 quarter (my last!) I am working as a Fellow with UCLA’s Center for Primary Research and Training (CFPRT). Our website isn’t glamorous, but you can read a little more about the collections we’ve processed here. The CFPRT is part of the Young Research Library’s Special Collections department and the program began in 2004 with a grant from the Ahmanson Foundation. The CFPRT pairs graduate students with un-processed or under-processed archival collections we have in UCLA’s Special Collections in order to train graduate students how to work with primary materials as well as to make these materials more accessible for primary research by the academic community. CFPRT Fellows work directly with archival materials and learn the fundamentals of processing, surveying, preservation, and project management. In turn, Fellows produce an online finding aid that is exported the Online Archive of California so that the collection is made available for online searching.

The Southern Regional Library Facility

The Southern Regional Library Facility (SRLF) is the library storage facility for the southern California UC campuses (Los Angeles, San Diego, Irvine and Santa Barabara), and it happens to be on our UCLA campus. There is also a Library Facility for the northern California campuses located in the East Bay.

Because of space limitations, for every new book we get in the UCLA libraries we have to move one into the SRLF. The SRLF holds many of the library’s older and lesser-used materials.

Since UCLA students often have to request a book from the SRLF I figured it would be fun to organize a tour of the facility to see the collection and what goes on inside. I organized a tour in my capacity as an officer with the American Library Association (ALA) UCLA student chapter for the library science students. It was very cool. Pictures to follow:

Here is a picture from the SRLF stacks which are closed off to the public and students. The vertical shelves are mounted into the foundation of the building and extend through each floor. The stacks are organized by book size for space reasons. This is how the stacks are mounted and organized in the New York Public Library:

Here is the collection of original film reels. There were a lot. One of the reels said “Beatles press conference.” Awesome.

Here is a part of the microfilm collection. This really blew my mind. Each pull-out shelf contains about 30-40 microfilm reels, and I almost couldn’t see the end of the microfilm shelves. Also, this was only about halfway down the length of the microfilm wall. This reminded me of the warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Here is one of the entrances into the SRLF stacks from the bunker-style hallway. I won’t lie, if there is ever a zombie attack, I would seriously hole up in this building.

Here is one of the original films in the film collection. Warlock, ooooooooooh.