A new place for the past
The Van Wagenen Library Archives & Special Collections at SUNY Cobleskill’s Van Wagenen Library have long been a dynamic and multi-faceted resource, and they are now an even more indispensable asset, with expanded archive space and a vast collection of newly curated pieces to fill it.
The Archive’s new home was formerly a large, though largely unused, reading room, and it’s unlikely that any part of it will go unused any longer. “We have more than 40 years’ worth of historical material that has never been sorted and cataloged,” says Library Dean, Beth Orgeron. “With our new space, a great many of those items will now be readily available for viewing and study.”
Among this trove of items are old photographic plates – glass plates, to be exact. Using specialized equipment, library staff will be able to digitize those delicate images, thus making them far safer to handle, print and display.
There are also decades-old dairy records that offer a detailed glimpse into the way farms in the Cobleskill area operated many years ago. “These records are the kind of things that our college community is increasingly becoming interested in, particularly with the recent establishment of the Institute for Rural Vitality,” Beth notes, citing the new initiative described in detail on page 16 of this magazine. Along with SUNY Cobleskill students and professors, farmers and others throughout our area will be able to explore and use this historical information. The Archive’s expanded capacity will also allow it to display several artifacts from the nearby Iroquois Museum.
All of these recent efforts at archival expansion and greater access to historical material go hand-in-hand with SUNY Cobleskill’s overarching objective of being viewed by those both inside and outside our metaphorical gates as a unique resource readily available to provide information, instruction – even inspiration.
“The College, and the areas around it, have a history much deeper than many imagine,” Beth says. “We’re hopeful the expanded Archive will open eyes and spur further interest in who and what came before. It’s a fascinating story.”
Feature photo of the interior of the Library Archives and Special Collections room taken by Mohamed Baligh ’12, Communications & Marketing New Media Specialist