A Look Inside Special Collections at "Open House" Events

Friends of the Library members explore drawings from the Matthew Nowicki Papers at a recent open house event in Special Collections.

Friends of the Library members explore drawings from the Matthew Nowicki Papers at a recent open house event in Special Collections.

The Special Collections Research Center opened its doors to colleagues and the public in two open house events in D. H. Hill Library this fall, showing the diverse facets of our work, from acquiring new collections, processing and preservation, our digital programs, outreach, public services, and more.  These events have been a fun way to dispel some of common myths and mysteries surrounding special collections, and to show colleagues, donors, faculty, alumni, and students what we have that can support their research, teaching, and personal interests.

SCRC staff stationed in the Multipurpose Seminar Classroom to share our work with colleagues at NCSU Libraries.

Staff "Share With A Peer" Series: Special Collections Open House

Special Collections staff members collaborated to organize an "open house" of the SCRC for our fellow NCSU Libraries colleagues, as part of a monthly Libraries staff-coordinated Share With A Peer (SWAP) series. The event was organized as an interactive, self-guided tour of Special Collections, with SCRC staff stationed throughout the room showing materials and examples highlighting the various aspects of our work.

Manuscript Collections

Acting Department Head Gwynn Thayer shared materials from our Manuscript Collections, highlighting our collecting areas from animal rights and welfare to architecture and design and much more.

University Archives

University Archivist Todd Kosmerick and Library Technician Cathy Dorin-Black selected items from the University Archives to share with colleagues, including Preservation Librarians Jamie Bradway and Emily Schmidt.

Technical Services

Head of Technical Services Linda Sellars and Library Associate Taylor de Klerk highlighted the work that goes on behind the scenes to arrange and describe collections, as well as showing the spaces and materials that we use to process and store materials.

Digital Programs


Brian Dietz and Laura Abraham displayed media formats that will be processed for digital preservation and research access, and shared examples of our digitized collections.


Outreach and Engagement Program Librarian Virginia Ferris highlighted some favorite items used frequently in classes, to demonstrate the diverse range of subjects that find these materials to be useful tools in teaching and research.

Also on display were items from historically under-represented student groups, which are used in outreach to help raise awareness of the value of preserving the legacy of these groups by contributing records to the archives and by sharing stories through the Wolf Tales mobile oral history program.

Public Services

University Library Technicians Jennifer Baker and Michael Edwards displayed containers and tools used by our Public Services team to ensure that researchers can find and access the materials that they need.

FOL Library Libations Series: "Special Collections and Spirits" 

Several weeks later, we opened our doors to Friends of the Library members in the FOL Library Libations event "Special Collections and Spirits." Guests were invited into our staff offices (including small groups at a time into our high-security vault) to meet our staff and learn about the work we do.

Acting Associate Director for Collections and Research Services Eli Brown provided special tours of the high-security vault, where we store many of our rare books and most frequently used materials.

Guests view highlights from our Manuscript Collections, selected by Gwynn Thayer.

A 3-D data visualization from 1947 provoked discussions on the how data can be visualized in both physical and digital formats.

Guests browse sketches of the NC State Fairgrounds and photographs of the Dorton Arena under construction.

Brian Dietz discusses the work that goes into processing, preserving, and making digital materials available for researchers.

The born digital workstation, dubbed "The Kraken" was on display, as well as laptops featuring examples of collections made available online.

Guests consider legacy media formats for digital preservation.

Selections from University Archives on display.

Todd Kosmerick discusses examples of the range of material included in the University Archives.

Linda Sellars and Library Associate Jessica Serrao display a box of materials before and after processing, as well as an example of an online collection guide, to illustrate the process of making materials available for researchers.

Virginia Ferris explains different approaches to outreach for classes and "show and tell" events, as well as the Wolf Tales mobile oral history program.

A sampling of popular collection items used in outreach and classes included archival materials reflecting the student experience during World War II.

Guests were invted to share what they looked forward to or most expected to find in Special Collections on their way into the open house...

... And were invited to share what surprised or interested them most on their way out.

We enjoyed opening our doors to the community of colleagues and friends in NCSU Libraries, to share what we love about our work and to spark new ideas for research and partnerships with Special Collections.