Everyone knows that a library card is the best resource – it will give you access to a lot of free stuff, from today’s bestsellers and yesterday’s hidden gems to streaming movies to seeds to neckties. Sometimes a card can take you to different libraries in your area, more than tripling the possibilities for entertainment, education and all sorts of things. It’s not hard to survive with your library card and all those jazz.
We talk all the time in Book Riot about the things you can literally check out of your library. But what about the things you can check out A. Your library (or more, the website of your library and countless others around the world)? I don’t want to tell events like the timing of the story and the author’s discussion. I’m thinking of specific areas or areas where the library is located, or individuals or groups of people who need to tell stories. I’ve met a lot of people on my online tour (including my research on how libraries celebrate Black History Month). What surprises can you find in the archives offered by public libraries, university libraries and state and national libraries for the preservation and free viewing of anyone in the world?
Let’s find out, what do we do? Here are nine great and fantastic collections where you can discover more about history, culture, people and places.
Slavery, abolition, liberation and freedom
The Harvard University Library has a number of digital collections that you can wander through, but one that may be of most interest to general historians. They even call them “curiosity collections” because they are there to satisfy your curiosity – to answer questions you may not know.
The British Library has a collection of over 90,000 audio recordings. Some of them are well-known musical performances and oral histories, but you can hear things like … pronunciation, and the sound of cars, and all the weird things you can expect from an archive called “online noises”.
There is a New York Public Library Countless Digital Collection. NYPL serves the greater New York area, yes, but it is one of the oldest and most thorough public research institutions in the country. They have countless archives and research collections and they are working for itNever Digitizing and storing that material. So how good is it that as a citizen of Beyonce’s Internet you can just wander around and type a keyword? The Schবারmberg Center, in particular, is one of the oldest and most famous places to visit in African American history, and their digital collections continue to grow.
San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection
The San Francisco Public Library has a number of interesting collections, but it contains thousands of photographs from San Francisco from the 1850s. I’ve always been interested in the history of San Francisco (thanks to Grandma Slash Clark Gable), so it’s really interesting to see the history of a city that has gone through a lot of repetition for westward expansion, earthquakes and mildness.
Eyes on the prize
A collection of interviews for PBS Eyes on the prize Documentary, it actually is Complete Things you can go through the individual names and see their interviews, complete with transcripts and dig a little deeper. I’m definitely including this because my first library job as a student assistant included clearing metadata and text for interview transcripts. It was so cool!
For most people who are not in the area, Washington, DC, the seat of political power and a collection of old buildings and memorials. But what about the people who have lived there for centuries? DIGDC is a great archive of small collections, many of which focus on the past or present, both within the city or for specific populations. Learn more about the actual DC by exploring the world of its regular residents, not four-year-old visitors.
Memories of the Suez Canal
Bibliotheca Alexandrina – Well, the New Bibliotheca Alexandrina – is a research institute, cultural center, and historical site aimed at providing the region and the world with the experience that Alexandria’s original library provided to scholars around the world. This special digital collection is great for learning about the Suez Canal, its construction from its inception and its importance in regional and international trade. It’s also great for working in your Arabic; The default language of the BA website and all their resources is not English, which is quite nice.
Historical recipe file
If your new favorite TikTok account is the one that made the classic recipe, this is definitely the place for you. The Milwaukee Public Library has a digitized collection of 20-year-old recipes clipped by MPL librarians between the 1960s and 1980s. Whether you’re interested in larks or what kind of mid-western recipes you can actually bring back, this is definitely a fun collection to explore!
Archive Alive: Stories and voices from LA Chinatown
In partnership with the Huntington Library, the Art Museum, and the Botanic Gardens and the Los Angeles Library Foundation, it is one of several collections at the Los Angeles Public Library. You can view archival photos and art, get first-hand accounts, and explore the past and present of Chinatown, one of the most historic in the United States.
This is just the tip of the iceberg – you can always start with your own public or university library. And hey, I didn’t even mention the Library of America, the Library of Congress, or the Attic of America, the National Archives. You definitely want to be exploring, regardless of where you come from or what you are looking for.