Special collections ‘hidden gem’ of DSU library

Photo by Abby Doman.

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Dixie State University has a hidden gem located inside its library where students can learn about and research local history. And, as research is one of the most important aspects and takeaways of college, students know that finding an abundant and credible information resource is priceless.

The Special Collections & Archives Library is one of these resources. Located on the third floor of the Jeffrey R. Holland building, the library offers a quiet, collaborative and comfortable place for students to do research about community history.

However, this isn’t any ordinary library. Special Collections maintains, protects and provides access to special documents such as photographs, oral histories and historical documents; Special Collections staff, including student workers, volunteers and interns, make these materials available through archival processes.

According to its mission statement, “Special Collections preserves materials through approved archival methods to ensure continued availability and will implement a digitization program to enhance both preservation of materials and access by the university, local community, and researchers.”

The archival process includes assessment, appraisal, arrangement, description, preservation, and providing access.

Special Collections Librarian & Archivist Kathleen Broeder said: “[Archivists] shuffle papers around from one pile to the other in a process that we swear will eventually look organized. We track (or at least try to with varying degrees of success) every piece of paper that comes through our door so we can find it at a moment’s notice when a researcher asks to see it.”

Broeder said some of the more unique items held in the library include:

  • A fabric Dixie State Academy pennant from 1918.
  • A digital film of the 2017 Women’s March in St George.
  • Yearbooks from the first graduating class of 1913 to the last yearbook which was a VHS video in 2001. Many have jokes and quotes from students and faculty.
  • St. George and Utah laws from the turn of the century in which you can see how women, tramps, and those newfangled automobiles were treated by society.
  • The first edition English Book of Mormon, as well as, the first edition in Spanish and Italian.
  • The Annals of the Southern Utah Mission by James Bleak (the cotton mission historian) on onion skin paper from 1861.

Special Collections Paraprofessional Tammy Gentry said her favorite thing about working in the Special Collections & Archives was working with all of these unique materials. She said she was even able to process her second great grandfather’s shoemaking journal.

“I love history, and I get to touch it every day,” Broeder said. “I handle the papers and photographs that tell our story and I get to share that love of our history with others.  I get to make sure those items are stored in the best way possible so they will be available for the next several hundred years.”

The Special Collections & Archives is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m.to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. or by appointment. To make an appointment, contact the Special Collections Paraprofessional, at [email protected] or (435) 634-2087. To see the collections available, visit https://library.dixie.edu/special_collections/index.html.