This week was filled with boxes stuffed with proposals, applications for construction funds, and the many working parts that comes with the construction or remodel/update of a library. Going through these boxes, over a dozen this week alone, really brought home the idea that libraries don’t just spring up because someone thinks it would be beneficial to have one built. There are a lot of moving parts to consider: the focused community’s need for a library, funds for construction (and how to obtain them), various forms of insurance, zoning and fire codes to follow, flood precautions (this is a huge consideration on its own, especially in Mississippi), interviews and payroll for construction workers, funds for furniture, and many, many more things that I haven’t even considered. Each detail must be decided – right down to the upholstery.
Businesses are tasked with keeping records for a certain amount of time. It turns out that anything that is in regards to, or related to, the construction of Mississippi libraries has to be kept and stored by the Mississippi Library Commission indefinitely. It was explained to me as: we will all pass on one day, but those swatches will live on forever.
I found a handful of architectural/construction stereotypes, or stereoplates, for proposed libraries and remodels within the folders and boxes. Stereotypes are printed plates created in relief and used for printing. Given the other meaning of the word ‘stereotype,’ it was awkward at first to find information about these. I found this blog that provides a brief history of stereotypes: The Printed & The Built.
Due to age, many folders are missing their labels, so I get to determine what a folder contains and label the folder appropriately. It seemed intimidating at first, as I am still learning and training. Some folders are easier to label than other. For example, it will not be hard to title a folder if it is filled with payroll forms for the construction of a certain library. But, others are a bit more nebulous, so determining what library the folder is for or what the main focus of the folder is requires some digging. Additionally, there are folders filled with a great amount of ephemera, but at times are no details or determining factors to point out which library the items are from or what their date of creation is, thus making it difficult to determine when or where a particular event or photograph took place. At times, the photographs provide the missing evidence I need.
On Friday, I found a box containing a folder regarding libraries in Appalachian areas in Mississippi. I had no idea such an area existed. Sadly, according to the correspondence I found, this area is one of the most disadvantaged areas in the nation. The documents discuss funds specifically set aside for new and current libraries in these areas and how they are to be used to help improve service and assistance to the Appalachian area residents.