New Division of Distinctive Collections Formed

map, book cover, photoThe UWM Libraries announce the new Division of Distinctive Collections, which brings together the American Geographical Society Library (AGSL), Archives, and Special Collections. Marcy Bidney, curator of AGSL, has been named Assistant Director of the division.

The reorganization follows a national trend to consolidate collections of rare and unique materials in academic libraries, providing users with a richer research experience and libraries with more efficient ways to manage and share those collections.

“We created the Division of Distinctive Collections to encourage more comprehensive approaches to the collections in teaching and instruction, interdisciplinary research, and community engagement,” says Michael Doylen, Associate Vice Provost and Director of Libraries. “These are outstanding collections whose impact can only be enhanced by bringing them in closer alignment.”

The reorganization will also foster among staff the sharing of expertise about preservation storage environments, grant development, and collection development.

The American Geographical Society Library is one of the premier collections of its kind in North America, with over 1.3 million items including maps, atlases, books, periodicals, photos and a large collection of geospatial data, all supporting inquiry into a variety of disciplines from film history to geography. The collections are world wide in coverage and date from the 15th century to the present.

The Archives focuses on documenting the history of UWM and providing access to historically significant papers and records, largely from the metropolitan Milwaukee area. Collection strengths pertain to these areas: social justice; racial, ethnic, and other underrepresented populations in Milwaukee; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities in Milwaukee; and the city’s brewing industry.

Special Collections is the only fully staffed public collection of rare books and special printed materials in southeastern Wisconsin. It consists of over 100,000 printed sources from the 15th century to the present, covering a wide range of subjects, including artists’ books and the book arts, printing and publishing history, social justice in America, and women’s and gender studies.