Brianne and I recently set out on an Archiventure. We went to visit Joe Penza at the Elizabethton and Carter County Public Library where he has been improving their local history room and developing an archives. Joe is a fellow graduate of the archives program at ETSU and was the intern who did all of the initial work on the Muriel C. Spoden Collection. Since I completed the work on that collection, that sort of makes us the Spoden Bookends!
We started out our visit in Elizabethton by observing the beautiful exterior of the library. Just like Kingsport’s, it used to be a post office.
However, the ECCPL still has elements of the old post office in side, as you can see.
In addition to his duties at the circulation desk and with records management, Joe has re-arranged the genealogy and local history room with the aim of making the materials more accessible to patrons and less accessible to potentially leaky windows or pipes. Very smart. it looks great in there, as you will see.
Above you can see the bars that formed the old entrance lobby, now the adult patron reading room. Joe showed us some of the oldest and most unique items in the growing collection. There are 1,400 volumes in the history room, 580 rolls of microfilm, and 150 periodicals.
There are also 70 scrapbooks in the collection and other neat resources for genealogists and local historians.
One of the architectural features left over from the library’s post office past is a vault.
Joe has transformed it into an archive and has scrambled for funds to pay for supplies. He has also been successful at soliciting the donation of some very fascinating historical items. Here are a few of his favorites:
I was fairly mesmerized by a donation that came through the regular library book donation box, an 1880 map of Tennessee.
Although this room is dusty and in need of some renovation, the architecture was fantastic.
Joe is a top-notch researcher so I hope you will visit the Elizabethton Public Library soon and put him to work! If you want to learn more about the progress he is making, you can listen to an interview, here.