Increasing Special Collections’ Capacity with Staff and Spaces

UCLA LIBRARY’S SPECIAL COLLECTIONS HOUSES RARE TREASURES, maintains important archives, and is also an active hub of research support for students and faculty. Each year, Special Collections serves hundreds of students in a variety of courses. This quarter alone, the department’s staff have provided an introduction to primary resources to undergraduate history courses, instruction on the history of Los Angeles labor struggles to a class in labor studies, and hands-on experience in archival description and access to graduate students in information studies.

In order to accommodate the increased use of special collections materials, staff, and resources, the location on the A level of the Charles E. Young Research Library is now open until 8 p.m. each Wednesday during regular academic sessions. In addition, a new classroom specifically for special collections instruction has opened in the Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library. The classroom, which will serve as a general study space when not in use for classes, will seat 25-30 students.

Special Collections’ rare books collection is internationally known, ranging from the Ahmanson-Murphy Aldine Collection of 15th and 16th-century imprints to British and American children’s books dating before 1900. With a generous grant provided by the Ahmanson Foundation, the UCLA Library has named Devin Fitzgerald as Curator of Rare Books and History of Printing. Fitzgerald, who is completing a PhD from Harvard University in history and East Asian languages, is a specialist in Western and East Asian book history.

Special Collections also welcomes two new Los Angeles Communities and Cultures Curators, Dalena Hunter and Lizeth Ramirez, who will support the Collecting Los Angeles initiative. Collecting Los Angeles documents the region’s social, cultural, and political history, developing community relationships in order to preserve and provide access to materials that might otherwise be lost.

Hunter joins Special Collections from UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, where she was the librarian/archivist. She is currently completing her PhD at UCLA, where she also received her MLIS. Ramirez was most recently the archivist and reference librarian at the Orange County Public Library and History Center. Both Hunter and Ramirez bring with them archives expertise and backgrounds in engaging with local communities.