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Remembering the Past, Securing the Future

Alexandria Library

Innovation Leader: Rose T. Dawson, Director, rdawson@alexandria.lib.va.us

Problem Statement

With budget cuts and reduced staff and hours, the Alexandria Library has had to look for additional revenue sources to support its current programs, services and departments. Besides the usual raising of fines and fees, the Library’s Special Collections Branch has been able to create projects that not only generate revenue, but also bring recognition to the Department and library system.

Innovation

In the past, Special Collections has looked to its maps and photographs to create original postcards to sell. More recently, we have published books, i.e. The Virginia Slave Births Index, 1853-1865, and Historic Photos of Alexandria with the earnings going back to the Department. Initially, the visibility to our collection was the real value; or so we thought. Based on the fact that both have generated earnings, we are now looking at supplementing the Special Collections materials budget through these efforts. To increase this revenue, we have begun to look at publishing a greater variety of products to promote our historical collection. For example, we have begun Volume 6 of The Virginia Slave Births Index. On July 2012, we expect to publish a pictorial history of the City of Alexandria highlighting Special Collections’ 40,000+ images including materials from our Manuscripts and Archives Collections. With many requests for copies of our historical maps and prints, the pictorial history will help to promote more requests and sales. A recently retired Special Collections Department staff member reviewed over 800 donated letters and memorabilia from the mid-19th to early 20th century Eaches-Fendall-Tackett Collection, publishing the correspondence.

Progress

Even with drastically reduced hours for Special Collections, these additional products have created a renewed and robust interest in our Department with a surprising increase in sales. Since July 2010, these efforts have generated approximately $7,000.00. Capitalizing on this wealth of our historical past, we hope will secure our future.