Problem StatementSpecial Collections remain a mystery to many who might benefit from their collections and staff expertise. Many assume that Special Collections only cater to adult scholars and genealogists. How can Special Collections move away from this stigma and introduce their materials to patrons of all ages, abilities and interests?
In 2007, Brooklyn Public Library’s local history division, the Brooklyn Collection, launched an educational initiative called Brooklyn Connections. The program targets underprivileged 7th and 8th grade classes (who are currently studying U.S. History) and introduces both students and their teachers to researching in a special collection. Classes partner with the library for the entire year and work on a unique Brooklyn history project co-designed by the teacher and collection staff. Students participate in collection tours, classroom workshops that highlight archival materials, after school sessions in the special collection, and independent research.
Brooklyn Connections mirrors the services already available to the general public. With the exception of classroom visits and tours, students experience the Brooklyn Collection in the same manner as their adult counterparts – requesting information, speaking with librarians and searching the Collection’s catalog and digital databases. To increase visibility of both the program and the collection, Brooklyn Connections maintains a website, curates an annual exhibit of student work in Central Library and distributes two new guidebooks at the library and on the web: The Young Learners Guide to the Brooklyn Collection and Projects at the Brooklyn Collection: A Teachers Guide.